the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

**update below**

following up from this

“These data again demonstrate the political role of preferred marriage forms. Exogamy and lack of cousin marriage within large lowland nation-states aid in uniting disparate clans and villages. By contrast, the absence of exogamy and the presence of preferred cousin marriage intensify relationships within the small upland social units.”

…where in the world should we expect to find cousin marriage/inbreeding/endogamy vs. lack of cousin marriage/outbreeding/exogamy? note that i think this lowland/upland dichotomy particularly applies to agriculturalists vs. agri-pastoralists/pastoralists and (maybe) not so much to hunter-gatherers, so i’m ignoring hunter-gatherers for right now. (click on map for LARGER view):

>> inbreeding <<

– saudi arabia, yemen, oman, uae: check. especially, once-upon-a-time (i.e. before the spread of islam), in the western and southern regions of the arabian peninsula. dunno if that is true or not.

– the middle east: check. but not, once-upon-a-time (i.e. before the coming of islam?), in egypt. dunno if that is true or not.

– turkey, iran, turkmenistan, afghanistan, pakistan: check.

– southern, but not northern, india: check.

– ethiopia, most of east africa heading southwards except for coastal areas: the amhara of ethiopia (and ethiopian jews) have rules against close endogamy, but that’s probably/possibly largely a result of the introduction of christianity. other groups in ethiopia certainly practice endogamy. dunno about the rest of east africa.

– nepal, bhutan, other groups in the himalayas: i happen to know that the nepalese have a tradition of cousin marriage, just haven’t gotten around to posting about it yet. dunno about bhutan or other himalayan folks.

– northern parts of southeast asia, vietnam (talk about very stubborn guerrilas!), northern thailand: check.

– indonesia: more on borneo than most of the other islands. no idea.

– southern and western china, but not northeast china (including manchuria): my impression from the reading so far is that clans, so probably the cousin marriage that definitely occurred/s in china, were historically more prevelant in southern than northern china. further research is required. (~_^)

– japan: check.

– southern europe: spain, southern france, central and southern italy including sicily and sardinia, greece, the balkans — check, check, check, check, check. if you haven’t already, see mating patterns in europe series in left-hand column below ↓.

– alpine countries: switzerland, austria, etc. not sure.

– northern europe: scotland, wales, parts of ireland, norway. — check, check, check, not sure. again, see mating pattern in europe series.

– russian federation (better map here): from the urals westwards generally yes, although there are patches of lowland areas in the west. the west siberian plain should be a large area of outbreeding until you get to the central siberian plateau (unless western russians settled there bringing their marriage traditions with them?). dunno the details.

– north africa: esp. in the atlas mountains. not sure what the berber mating patterns were pre-islam. the cousin marriage rates are high today.

>> outbreeding <<

– northern europe: england, northern france, belgium, the netherlands, denmark, northern germany, northern poland — check, check, check, check, check, check, more-or-less. especially since the medieval period, but there was most likely cousin marriage/endogamy in all of these places pre-christianity. see mating patterns in europe series.

– iraq: around the tigris and euphrates — the garden of eden. lots of inbreeding, in fact, but that may have been introduced by the arabs along with islam — certainly father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage likely was. dunno what the marriage practices of the populations there were pre-islam. i wonder what they were in ancient sumerian, etc., times? dunno.

– large parts of west africa: dunno. there appears to be some high cousin marriage rates in parts of guinea and nigeria, but that’s just where there are some highlands in west africa. dunno for sure.

– central africa: niger/chad area. dunno.

– coastal east africa: dunno.

– libya and egypt: pre-islam. dunno.

– northern india: check. relative to their neighbors anyway.

– parts of russia: see comments above in inbreeding section.

– northern china: see comments above in inbreeding section.

– parts of southeast asia: check.

– parts of indonesia: in particular the southeastern part of sumatra. dunno.
_____

**update 09/14: oops — forgot the new world (remember – agriculturalists only):

– western/southwestern north america, mesoamerica, anybody in the andes: should’ve been inbreeders. dunno for sure.

– eastern north america: groups in the midwest ought to have been outbreeders, relatively speaking. anybody in appalachia ought to have been inbreeding. florida groups (were they agriculturalists?) should’ve been outbreeders — according to this theory anyway. dunno for sure.
_____

previously: this one’s for g.w.

(note: comments do not require an email. where the inbred martians should be.)

31 Comments

  1. Even more so if you generalize to pop. density which will include uplands but also those lowland regions that also have low pop. density like steppe, jungle, deserts, north european forests until the heavy plow etc.

    Physical geography ftw :)

    heh, so cool

    Reply

  2. “Couldn’t we argue it was topography, not marriage customs, at the root of these divisions”

    I’d say indirectly yes but once created a culture can move whereas topography can’t so FBD marriage culture could end up in the lowlands and MBD marriage could end up in the highlands and the direct effect would come from the marriage culture not the topography.

    Reply

  3. @luke – “Hmm. Couldn’t we argue it was topography, not marriage customs, at the root of these divisions?”

    has someone been reading too much jared taylor again? (~_^)

    Reply

  4. @g.w. – “I’d say indirectly yes….”

    yeah, it’s definitely looking like it’s a factor — and that’s not strange. hey — it’s our environment we’re talking about!

    what’s not clear to me is if the upland/lowland divide applies to hunter-gatherers, too. the bushmen are supposed to be outbreeders, for instance, but it looks from the map above that they live in some very plateau-y areas (although i really don’t know if they do or not). -?-

    Reply

  5. “what’s not clear to me is if the upland/lowland divide applies to hunter-gatherers, too.”

    I read quite a lot about various HG groups – mostly north american ones – a long while ago (although i may have misread it completely and this whole tack is wrong) and iirc they mostly had quite convoluted marriage systems which looked to my very inexpert eye like an attempt to avoid inbreeding so since then i’ve always assumed – possibly wrongly – that because their total population was so low they had to make a point of outbreeding as much as they could (while still endogamous within the tribe).

    If so then a similar argument might apply to HGs as applies to farmers – it depends on the size of the group. If a particular HG group has a relatively high population – for HGs – then maybe they get more endogamous and if their population is small they get more exogamous. Although typing this is reminding me how long ago i read up on HGs and that it was before reading all your stuff on clan systems so…dunno. probably all wrong.

    part of why i wonder if (some) HGs were actually more exogamous is simply reading about the skeletal ones in europe anyway being taller, larger skulls, more robust and all round more healthy sounding and so i wonder if that might have meant more individual-based sexual selection rather than familial-based ally selection (as i think the former increases genetic load-shedding – at least for health and fertility related traits – in the same way it does in the hajnal system).

    “the bushmen are supposed to be outbreeders”

    If i was to guess i’d guess in the tropics where food was relatively easy and abundant they would be (relatively speaking) inbreeders (although still less than farmers) and those in harsher environments like the kalahari where food was scarcer and populations low enough for inbreeding to have a dramatic negative effect very quickly they would be (relatively speaking) outbreeders (as much as possible given the low population).

    so the standard pattern (excluding hajnal system) might be
    very low pop HGs – exogamous
    low pop tropical / abundant food HGs – ?
    low pop pastoralist – very endogamous
    medium pop farmer – endogamous
    high pop farmer – endogamous but diluted by larger clan size

    or put another way if the standard pattern is for a human population in a particular valley to divide into separate clan alliances for protection but the total population is so low (e.g. HGs) that dividing it up would lead to very rapid negative inbreeding then it might make more sense to go the opposite way instead and have a maximally exogamous system within the endogamous limit of the tribe (especially if they don’t have much need for inheritance except the collective inheritance of their terriotory).

    however i think i should refresh my reading

    Reply

  6. @g.w. – “iirc they mostly had quite convoluted marriage systems which looked to my very inexpert eye like an attempt to avoid inbreeding so since then i’ve always assumed – possibly wrongly – that because their total population was so low they had to make a point of outbreeding as much as they could (while still endogamous within the tribe).”

    hmmmm. i don’t know at all ’cause i’ve never read about any of these groups (not really), but julian pitt-rivers had this idea (i think he was right — planning on posting about it one of these days) that they type of kinship terminology a group uses is tied to who can marry whom in a group. makes sense to me: the arabs and the chinese are very specific in naming all of their cousins ’cause they prefer to marry some over the others, whereas we don’t delineate any of them ’cause we don’t like to marry any of them. they’re all off limits as far as we’re concerned.

    having said that, a lot of the north american groups have kinship naming systems that fall somehwere in between the really specific arab/chinese one (the sudanese kinship system) and ours (the eskimo system) — there are the iroquois, the crow, and the omaha systems (don’t ask me which groups use which systems, except for the obvious — that the iroquois presumably used the iroquois system, etc.). in all of these, cousins are named more specifically than in our system, so my guess would be that they generally did, indeed, marry cousins, but maybe the preferences/prohibitions weren’t as specific as with the arabs/chinese. like, maybe you could generally marry either maternal cousin, whereas with the chinese they really prefer the mbd.

    i dunno. i’m just guessing about all this.

    Reply

  7. @g.w. – “If i was to guess i’d guess in the tropics where food was relatively easy and abundant they would be (relatively speaking) inbreeders (although still less than farmers) and those in harsher environments like the kalahari where food was scarcer and populations low enough for inbreeding to have a dramatic negative effect very quickly they would be (relatively speaking) outbreeders (as much as possible given the low population).”

    that’s funny — my picture of this is just the reverse of yours. well, the why part anyway. (^_^)

    i’m picturing the tropics — i’ve got rainforests in my mind in particular — as not being rich in resources, whereas the kalahari and the ice floes where the eskimos live (supposedly two groups of outbreeders, the bushmen and the eskimos — if i’ve got that right), are rich environments.

    you’d be surprised about rainforests — lots of biomass there, but not much to eat really — unless you’re into grubs and bugs and other slimy things. meanwhile, there are lots of calories in antelopes and seals! (i remember an anthro lecturer of mine ages ago talking about how rich the eskimo environment was and all of us students were like … huh?!)

    dunno. my picture could be upside-down. but i thought it might make sense that in places of scarce resources (rainforests, tropics) you’d inbreed to hang on to your resources (kinda like in the auvergne and land on which to graze sheep), whereas in the kalahari it wouldn’t matter so much (except for water, maybe!).

    dunno. will have to think about it some more. (^_^)

    Reply

  8. “but julian pitt-rivers had”

    As an aside the Pitt-Rivers is or was the coolest museum in the world. It’s like the museum Indiana Jones would have if he had a museum.

    “had this idea (i think he was right”

    Yes

    “i dunno. i’m just guessing about all this.”

    I need to re-read all that old stuff in light of your posts about clan mechanisms.

    Reply

  9. @HBD Chick:

    “i’m picturing the tropics — i’ve got rainforests in my mind in particular — as not being rich in resources, whereas the kalahari and the ice floes where the eskimos live”

    African hunter-gatherers typically inhabited grasslands (the savanna). Go to the rainforest, and you get Pygmies, whose short stature appears to be a response to nutrient deficiency (iodine).

    Reply

  10. @g.w. – “As an aside the Pitt-Rivers is or was the coolest museum in the world.”

    was?! oh no. what’d they do to it? (i almost don’t want to know….)

    Reply

  11. @hubchik
    “was?! oh no”

    No, i just mean i haven’t been there in 20 years so it may have been PC-ed.

    @Jayman
    “African hunter-gatherers typically inhabited grasslands (the savanna). Go to the rainforest, and you get Pygmies, whose short stature appears to be a response to nutrient deficiency”

    Gorillas?

    If humans are descended from apes and apes are rainforest then…but then again maybe humans are descended from the apes that moved out of the rainforest, so maybe not.

    Reply

  12. @g.w. – “No, i just mean i haven’t been there in 20 years so it may have been PC-ed.”

    ah. yeah — your comment made me check out the wikipedia page on the museum, and sho’nuff, they did “refurbish” the place in 2008-09. hmmmm. =/

    @g.w. – “If humans are descended from apes….”

    we ARE apes! (~_^)

    Reply

  13. “we ARE apes”

    Yeah but which ones. I’ve always assumed the human root starts in the rainforest but in the middle of writing the previous comment it occurred to me it might be from a branch that had already moved out.

    Reply

  14. @G.W. The story is that the earliest hominids (we’re talking australopithecines, 3+ million years ago) started walking upright because they came down from the trees and began walking long distances on the ground, in the savanna. Much of Africa has gone through dryer and wetter epochs where forest gave way to savanna and vice versa.

    Reply

  15. Australian Aborigines, descendants of the out of Africa types and thus better models for the rest of us than Bushmen or the Hg’s in Kenya (Herero?) have very elaborate kinship rules to prevent inbreeding. They have Skin Groups based on a mixture of ancestry and relationships which can allow close relatives to breed but not more distant ones. In groups with which my wife worked as a nurse, young men were married off to old women and young women to old men, presumably to improve the social bonding between generations. Every 5 years or so, small groups would meet at a Corroboree (English word adapted from one particular language). Each skin group (they existed across the smaller groups) would meet and swap young adults with other skin groups. I’ve never seen this written down but it must be so. Did this become the practice on the way out of Africa or did it evolve in Australia? If out of Africa, then we have been aware of genetic issues for a long time.

    Reply

  16. Russian cousin names are more specific than English ones. In fact Brother Cousin and Sister Cousin don’t leave much room for error.

    Reply

  17. @Jayman

    “The story is that the earliest hominids (we’re talking australopithecines, 3+ million years ago) started walking upright because they came down from the trees and began walking long distances on the ground, in the savanna. Much of Africa has gone through dryer and wetter epochs where forest gave way to savanna and vice versa.”

    Missed this back when you posted it.

    That’s the story but I’m not sure i believe it. For path of least resistance reasons I think it’s much more likely the rainforest expanded with one wave of climate changeand and rainforest hominids expanded with it and then the rainforest contracted again with a second wave of climate change and some of them were stranded and had to evolve very fast.

    I think if it’s possible to ever find out then when it comes to things like skull-sizes and grandmother longevity (traits capable of very rapid emergency evolution in a very strong selection (i.e. very high casualty) i think it will turn out that those traits evolved in that kind of rapid emergency situation.

    Basically i’m saying i think hominids will have gone from rainforest to savannah very rapidly and under duress and that was one of the major evolutionary sparks.

    Reply

  18. The rift valley opened and trapped some apes on the wrong (savanna side). Dim memories of the Scientific American years ago when it was worth reading.

    Reply

  19. Forgive me if you’ve made this connection before, but could you factor the [highland x lowland] + [inbreeding x outbreeding] + [mercantile x agriculture] into the equation for the = causes of the US Civil War???

    And, following along the lines of your discussion, could you simplify it further still as really a culture clash between northern europeans, or between disparate [highland x lowland] british groups that settled in the US?

    Reply

  20. @Highlands6000:

    “And, following along the lines of your discussion, could you simplify it further still as really a culture clash between northern europeans, or between disparate [highland x lowland] british groups that settled in the US?”

    Definitely a culture clash, and certainly one that involved more inbred vs. more outbred groups, but not one of highlanders vs. lowlanders per se. The highland group (Ulster Scots of Greater Appalachia) fought on the side of lowland groups (the Puritans and the Quakers) against another lowland group (the Cavaliers of the coastal South):

    A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers” | JayMan’s Blog

    Flags of the American Nations | JayMan’s Blog

    Maps of the American Nations | JayMan’s Blog

    Reply

  21. @highlands6000 – “Forgive me if you’ve made this connection before, but could you factor the [highland x lowland] + [inbreeding x outbreeding] + [mercantile x agriculture] into the equation for the = causes of the US Civil War???”

    egads! i’m reticent to do that, since my knowledge of the civil war is pretty scant (junior high history class is really the last time i read anything on the civil war! to my credit, i feel, i got into a heated debate with my “yankee” teacher, ’cause i couldn’t see where any part of the u.s. constitution said that the southern states couldn’t secede from the union. (~_^) ).

    going by the population groupings from Albion’s Seed, the scotch-irish/border english in the backcountry (appalachia) ought to have been the most inbred, while the puritans in new england and the quakers in the mid-atlantic region should’ve been more outbred. my guess is that the puritans were more outbred than the quakers, but that’s only a guess.

    i haven’t investigated the cavaliers/indentured servants of the deep south, so i really don’t know how in- or outbred they were. probably less that the backcountry populations, but i just don’t know in relation to the puritans or quakers. stay tuned! (^_^)

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  22. @jayman – The highland group (Ulster Scots of Greater Appalachia) fought on the side of lowland groups (the Puritans and the Quakers) against another lowland group (the Cavaliers of the coastal South)….”

    er, not fully. hackett fischer’s “backcountry” includes “southwestern Pennsylvania, the western parts of Maryland and Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee” [kindle locations 10343-10344], so you’ve got a lot of the borderlanders fighting on the side of the cavaliers, too.

    also, the quakers aren’t strictly speaking a lowland group — they were more of an “intermediate zone” group (see bottom map in this post). fwtw. (^_^)

    Reply

  23. @HBD Chick:

    “er, not fully. hackett fischer’s “backcountry” includes “southwestern Pennsylvania, the western parts of Maryland and Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee” [kindle locations 10343-10344], so you’ve got a lot of the borderlanders fighting on the side of the cavaliers, too.”

    Broadly, Greater Appalachia was on the side of the Union. However, there were apparently some Borderlanders who adopted the Cavalier plantation lifestyle with slaves and all. This was most evident in Kentucky, parts of Missouri, and western Tennessee.

    However, even with this going on, these regions picked the Union; KY and MO never joined the Confederacy as was planned, WV broke away from VA to stay loyal to Union. Eastern TN tried to do the same, only to be put down by Confederate forces. In balance the Borderlanders were with the Yankees/Quakers on this one, even though I wouldn’t say it was due to sympathy for the North’s cause.

    Reply

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