2012 top ten

these are my top ten faves of 2012! ymmv. (if you’re gonna [re-]read just one of them, make it “theories.”)

in date order (’cause i couldn’t decide which one i like the bestest)…

jan – behind the hajnal line (see also: medieval manoralism and the hajnal line)

feb – inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior (see also: inbreeding and the evolution of altruistic behavior ii)

may – looking for altruism genes

jul – mating patterns and family types ii (see also: mating patterns and family types)

sept – sex and “the other”

sept – the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

oct – hispanic family values (see also: anglo-american vs. mexican family values)

nov – theories

nov – more on genetics and the historical decline of violence (see also: what pinker missed and “violence around the world”)

dec: kinship in anglo-saxon society (see also kinship in anglo-saxon society ii)

bonus: ibd and historic mating patterns in europe

bonus bonus: libertarian crackers

bonus bonus bonus: the asymmetry of altruism again

see also: The Hundred Best Lists of All Time

(note: comments do not require an email. happy new year!)

clans in the news: deutschland

*update below*

from gates of vienna, excerpts from a translation of this article (links and emphases added by me — there are a LOT of links in the original article, presumably mostly to german sites):

“Germany: A ‘Society of Prey’ — Kurdish-Lebanese Clans and the Helplessness of the Constitutional State

“While the federal government and the opposition in the Bundestag adamantly regard immigration as an indispensable contribution to Germany, the intensity of the conflicts between some groups of immigrants and German society is steadily increasing.

“One example of this are many social problems caused by members of Kurdish-Lebanese clans in Berlin, Bremen, and Essen, cities which according to declarations from judicial authorities are out of control….

Regarding Lebanese clans, hierarchically organized groups meet strong ethnic self-awareness and a strong family cohesion which is supported by a large number of young men ready to fight a modern society composed of small families and with liberal institutions that can hardly assert themselves when facing this challenge….”

long-term inbreeding vs. long-term outbreeding (i think). there’s more…

“… An anonymous crime investigator mentioned that this group considers Germans to be ‘a society to be looted, both as born victims and losers….'”

morality applies to the ingroup and not to the outgroup. some more…

“… The police often meet aggressive groups of men while patrolling the streets, men who are part of families in which ten children per woman is not a rarity, who are available in large numbers and can be quickly mobilized because of an unemployment rate of 90% and the culturally-conditioned tendency of men from these groups to remain in the streets all the time. The police must more and more frequently retreat and even traffic stops against members of these families can be made only with extra police presence.

According to the Commissioner for Integration of Neukölln, the male members of the Lebanese clans are generally prone to a special level of aggressiveness. The children in these families increasingly realize that no German can be in a position to set limits for them. The mere mention of their family name would be enough to force others to give them money and other goods. An admonition in the school or a mere criticism of a neighbor is seen as an attack against the collective honor of the community, to which one is ready to respond with violence. Individual members of a clan can always count on the support of many male relatives. For example, in March 2012, when the German Sven N. fatally injured a Lebanese in Neukölln in self-defense, he had to leave the district after receiving threats from the Lebanese clan. The attacker who died was, however, considered by many of his relatives as well as by Arabs and Turks in Berlin as a martyr and buried in a ceremony in which several thousand Muslims were present.

“At their main centers in Berlin and Bremen, members of these clans appear as a group strongly prone to criminal activities. According to the central police department in Bremen, 1000 out of the approximately 2,600 Lebanese in Bremen (mostly men) are registered as suspects of having committed crimes. The statistical result is that almost every male Lebanese in Bremen was at least once a potential subject of a legal proceeding. In Berlin, the crime rate among Lebanese youth in cases of aggravated robbery is about 16 times higher than among ethnic Germans. The overall incarceration rate is 14 times higher than the average of the male population in the same age. Even amongst heavy offenders, Lebanese are strongly overrepresented. The former Berlin Attorney Roman Reusch spoke of ‘proper training for professional criminal activities’ in some Lebanese clans. Police sources reported similar information. Male family members would often begin committing crimes as early as elementary school age. Imprisonment would be understood in their environment as a kind of an initiation rite.

“Hostility to Germans is extremely blatant among many members of the Lebanese clans, who according to a report from the Süddeutsche Zeitung: ‘despise everything that is not part of their culture, first and foremost the Germans.’ According to information from the media, an internal report made by the Berlin police described the situation of the Germans in places with strong Lebanese presence as follows:

“‘For German youths residing in districts that are dominated by ethnic gangs, the situation, according to the criminal police experts, has already become dramatic. Their withdrawal with defensive behavior was perceived as weakness, which meant a loss of honor — and also danger: The number of German teenagers being beat up or robbed because they were an easy target was significant in ethnically dominated conflict-ridden neighborhoods….’

“The mayor of the district of Neukölln, Heinz Buschkowsky, had in this context pointed to different cultural conditions that hinder self-assertion on the German side:

“‘The enemy is the hated Germans, they are the target of their aggression, and they have nothing to counter the flash mob which gathers in a few minutes via a circulated SMS, a group of people who immediately display a threatening attitude. Germans are considered easy prey…. We raise our children to be non-violent. We reject violence at these encounters and teach this attitude to our children. Others teach their boys to be strong, brave and ready to fight. The starting situation is simply not equal.

“Government employees are being increasingly threatened and intimidated, too, and therefore they avoid conflicts with the clans. There were also examples reported in Bremen in which the police no longer investigated complaints made by Germans in cases involving Lebanese clans. Judges and prosecutors who are involved in cases against them are under police protection due to threats from members of those Lebanese clans. The Berlin youth court Judge Kirsten Heisig said she had been threatened by a clan after she sentenced some of its members to prison. Shortly afterwards she committed suicide under circumstances that have not been fully clarified. According to the head of the department of Organized Crime in the Berlin public prosecutor’s office, it is possible for the clans to ‘clearly exercise any kind of influence on evidence’ due to their capacity to threaten. Video recordings document the disproportionate behavior of Lebanese against legal personnel, who do not dare to oppose them. A judge allowed herself to be insulted in court for nine minutes without even daring to contradict the accused person. Many Lebanese criminals receive remarkably mild punishments, and if they have to go to prison, they enjoy privileges and continue their illegal activities from behind bars, while acquittals are hailed as victories over the German state….

“Meanwhile, leftists try to mobilize Arab youngsters as allies against the police, and the liberal journalist Malte Lehming explained the problems as an expression of social progress and said of Lebanese and other youth gangs:

“‘They are young, brave, mobile, hungry, willing to take risks, initiative. The country needs such people.'”

hmmmm. maybe he’s right. finally…

“… According to the police in Bremen, well-integrated Lebanese from important clans are an ‘absolute exception.'”

update 12/29: here are some links to msm stories which were linked to in the original german article @sezession.de. i’ve provided the links to the german msm stories and to corresponding google translations. enjoy! (several of these articles are multiple pages long, so make sure to click through to the other pages. note that not all of the links below go to the first page.):

Arabische Großfamilien – Staat kuscht vor kriminellen Clans (United Arab families – state lies down against criminal clans)

Organisierte Kriminalität – Schrecklich nette Familien (Organised crime – Terrible nice families)

KRIMINALITÄT – Blutige Selbstjustiz (CRIME – Bloody vigilantism)

Clans in Deutschland – Machtlose Polizei (Clans in Germany – Powerless police)

Bremer Clan: Mord mit Ansage (Bremer clan: murder with announcement)

Arabische Kriminelle in Deutschland – Das regeln wir unter uns (Arab criminals in Germany – We agree among us)

Deutschlandradio Kultur – Länderreport Arabische Clans (Germany Culture – Country Report: Arab clans << kinda a messed up translation. sorry!)

Angst ist ein schlechter Ratgeber – Einblicke in die Parallelgesellschaft Neuköllns (Fear is a bad advisor – Insights into a parallel society Neukölln)

Kriminelle Großfamilien – Sechs arabische Clans im Visier der Polizei (Criminal extended – Six Arab clans targeted by the police)

Kriminelle Großfamilien halten Polizei auf Trab (Criminals extended families keep police on their toes)

Die bittere Wahrheit über Multi-Kulti (The bitter truth about multiculturalism)

Niedersachsen – Verband besorgt über Gewalt in Gerichtssälen (Lower Saxony – Association concerned about violence in courtrooms)

Warum lässt sie sich das gefallen? – Miri-Schläger beschimpft Richterin 9 Minuten lang (Why she puts up with that? – Miri-Schläger insulted Judge for 9 minutes). this and the following three articles are related to the miri-clan.

Bremer Justiz: Warum kuschen Sie vor den Miris, Frau Richterin? (Bremer Justice: Why fawn at the Miri, Judge?)

Milde Strafe für diesen brutalen Miri (Mild punishment for this brutal Miri)

Polizei löst Siegesfeier des Miri-Clans auf (Police solves victory celebration at the Miri clan)

previously: clans in the news: aleppo and clans in the news: the lebanon and clans in the news

(note: comments do not require an email. hi there!)

the zadruga

at the beginning of the year, i wrote a post about mating patterns in eastern europe in which i mentioned the zadruga as being a general slavic family form. szopeno took exception to that — and he was right!

i’ve done some more reading about eastern european — in particular balkan — family types, and, as far as i can tell, the only consensus amongst historians and social scientists wrt the extreme extended family form known as the zadruga is that there is noooo consensus about the zadruga. it is (or was) a family form amongst southern slavs — i.e. not all slavs — but also amongst other balkan peoples like the vlachs as well. the zadruga apparently wasn’t found everywhere in the balkans or at all times — but here’s something interesting from Entangled Paths Toward Modernity: Contextualizing Socialism and Nationalism in the Balkans (2009) [pg. 149]:

“Zadruga is the popular term used to describe the complex (exteded and multiple) family. The term itself is quite recent, its institutionalized usage dating from the nineteenth century. There is a long-standing historiographical discussion on almost all aspects of the zadruga, its status, origins and function. For a long time a ‘nativist’ historical approach, cogently supported by ethnographic and folklore studies, treated the zadruga as a perennial phenomenon (dating from the Middle Ages) and pertaining specifically to Slavic and Balkan civilization. Most recent scholarship has heavily contested not only the ‘from time immemorial thesis,’ but also the ‘all Balkan’ and the ‘specifically Slavic’ thesis. Zadruga zones in the nineteenth-century Balkans were unevenly distributed, showing a concentration in the mountainous stockbreeding area between the valleys of the Sava and Morava, the northwestern part of the Balkan range, that is, the mountainous territories between Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and the Rhodope, the tribal regions of Montenegro and Northern Albania, while valley belts were present in the military frontier of Croatia, Slavonia and Vojvodina, some valley of Serbia, Western and Central Albania, Southern Macedonia and Southern Albania. The presence of the zadruga thus can be evidenced only for some Balkan territories, and not all exclusively Slavic (ex. Albania or Southern Hungary). In Bulgaria it was concentrated in the most western part of the country, it was almost completely absent from Romania and Greece.”

ah ha! so we’re back to (possibly/probably inbreeding) uplanders being clannish or tribalistic.

here’s an extended excerpt from Household and Family in the Balkans: Two Decades of Historical Family Research at University of Graz (2012) [pgs. 50-51 — links inserted by me]:

Both the Balkan joint family [i.e. the zadruga] and the patrilineage emerged first as results of pastoral economies and the patriarchal influence of Illyrian cultural legacy. (In part, the comparable culture of the Central Balkans is an autonomous development.) After the Roman conquest of the Illyrian lands these features were preserved by Albanian and Vlach nomads. They were later joined by Slavic groups who followed them into the uplands. What we have here is a phenomenon within limits of an adaptive strategy based on both ecological factors and predatroy expansion.

“The idea of a relationship between pastoralism and the existence of both the joint family household and the patrilineage is not new. [no, it is not. – h.chick] Todorova describes the highest concentration of joint family households in Western Bulgaria in regions with a large area of meadows and a developed pastoral economy (Todorova 1990: 18-19). Earlier, Mosely stated that, in general, the joint family had shown a greater viability in the mountainous regions of the Balkans than in the plains (Mosely 1976a: 31). Filipovic notes, the ‘appearance and persistence of the zadruga as an institution originated in connection with livestock herding’ (Filipovic 1976: 273). While Mitterauer states that the distribution of the joint family households is basically confined to mountainous, remote regions where a money economy and forms of wage work played a lesser role, he also suggests that a pastoral economy might have promoted the emergence of complex family structures (Mitterauer 1980: 67-69).

“The Ottoman conquest of the Balkans from the 14th to the 16th centuries was generally accompanied by massive migrations of the Balkan people in a variety of directions. Reconstruction of the migration movements is difficult, but the main direction was from south to north following the pattern of conquest. Pastoralists or semi-pastoralists, recently settled, rediscovered their former survival strategies. The mountain regions became repopulated (Cvijic 1922: 127-181). Generally, the Ottoman administration did not absorb the mountain dwellers…”

so, no state to put a damper on violent behaviors.

“…and so they independently developed appropriate social structures and concomitant survival strategies based on the patrilineage and patriarchal joint family.

“The joint family, like the lineage of which it was a part, was never static but underwent fissioning following the dynamics of the life course and family cycles. The tribal lineages constructed of these joint families were reinforced by their focus on shared sentiment and ritual. Thus the Balkan joint family became the basic unit for patrilineal tribal lineages that developed from the 14th centrury onward….”

the opposite process, really, of what happened in medieval nw europe.

“…This system was flexible enough to adapt to the bilaterally based kindred of Vlachs and Sarakatsans. [remember that the pre-christian germans — including the anglo-saxons — reckoned their kinship bilaterally as well. — h.chick] At the same time, this plasticity enabled the individual household to create cyclical alternations of nuclear and joint family households depending on fertility, fission and fusion (Halpern & Anderson 1970: 83-97). In this way these units also functioned for settled agriculturalists….”

this reminds me of the settled farmers of pakistan and afghanistan who adopted the arab mating pattern of father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage — a practice which grew out of the arab (or levantine) pastoralist traditions, but which was exported — along with (i think) all the related tribalistic sentiments which (i also think) develop, in part, because of the inbreeding — by the arabs to south asia when they invaded the region. i’m also reminded of the upland “auvergnat pashtuns” of france.

“…What characterized patriarchal Balkan social structure, as the pioneering works of Cvijic illustrated, was the constant interrelationship between becoming settled farmers and/or pastoralists. Until the 19th century this was a reversible process. This ended with the spread of industrialization, urbanization, and the modern states. It is thus much more logical to assign the origin of the Balkan joint family to the goat- and sheep-keeping families of the mountains that to see it as a result of conditions in the plains. But the fact is that many joint families resided in the valleys and plains.

How then did patriarchal joint family and patrilineage emerge in the plains? For centuries pastoral families of the mountainous regions migrated into the plains where they settled. In the generally chaotic situation caused by the Ottoman conquest not only did Slavic families flee to the mountains, but others, especially those of the Vlachs, left their mountainous homelands and settled in Ottoman-occupied territories. The valleys of Serbia, Bosnia, and, especially along the borders between the Ottoman and the Habsburg empires, were favoured sites.

hmmmm. time to google for a good map….

previously: mating patterns in medieval eastern europe and balkan endogamy and more on albanians and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

(note: comments do not require an email. a zadruga.)

friends vs. family

*update below*

luke asks: “How important is friendship — between-non relatives that is — in highly inbred societies?”

good question.

there are two questions that relate to this on the world values survey (2005-2008 wave):

– For each of the following aspects, indicate how important it is in your life. Would you say it is: Family.
– For each of the following aspects, indicate how important it is in your life. Would you say it is: Friends.

i’m assuming that “friends” means non-relative friends to all of the respondents.

possible responses:

1 Very important
2 Rather important
3 Not very important
4 Not at all important

i looked at just those that responded “very important” to each question. i haven’t sorted any of the nations by ethnicity, so … you know … some nations (like the u.s.) are kinda mixed up ’cause they’re multi-ethnic.

here are the nations sorted by those who responded that family was the most important to them. all five father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marrying societies in this world values survey wave (in red) are above the global average, four of them towards the top. of my “core” nw europeans (in blue), the netherlands, germany, france, and norway are all below the global average. the anglo nations scored, for the most part, below the fbd nations, but above the global average. i’m surprised at how low china and hong kong score:

wvs - family very important

and here are the nations sorted by those who responded that friends were the most important to them. the “core” europeans are all above the global average, but so are jordan, iraq, and morocco. again china and hong kong score very low:

wvs - friends very important

finally, here’s the data sorted by the difference between the “family” responses and the “friends” responses (family responses minus friends responses). towards the top are the societies with the widest difference between how important they feel family is versus friends — so they, presumably, value family much more than friends. towards the bottom are the societies with the smallest difference between how important family and friends are. all of my “core” europeans are below the global average, most well below. great britain, the netherlands, norway, and sweden are in the lowest quarter of the table, showing how — comparatively speaking — there’s not a very great difference in how these populations view family and friends. three of the five fbd marriage societies are above the global average. hong kong scores surprisingly low — as does ethiopia! maybe i shouldn’t be so surprised at that:

wvs - family friends very important - difference

update 12/29: i took a look at the documentation of the values surveys for some of the countries for which i or someone else thought the results were kinda surprising (china, ethiopia, georgia, cyprus). here’s what i found:

– china: seems to be a pretty good quality survey. the researchers (from the Research Center for Contemporary China, Peking University) did conduct surveys in all regions of the country (i was concerned that maybe they only focused on beijing or something). two things that are a little concerning to me: 1) the sample size is 1,991. is that representative for a population of 1.3 billion? seems to me like it wouldn’t be, but what do i know about stats (not much)? 2) they interviewed more older people than younger people (aged 18-29). they figured that’s ’cause so many younger people are migrant workers and so just weren’t at “home” when these surveys were done. which is interesting given the results ’cause i would’ve thought that family would be more important to older generations in china than to younger ones, but perhaps not.

– ethiopia: there was a big problem with the ethiopia survey. i’ll just quote from the report [pg. 13]:

“Respondents (and interviewers) had IMMENSE difficulty interpreting scales with opposing statements on either side of a 10 point scale. They tended to give an answer of agreement or not for either statements separately rather than selecting a number to indicate their answer on the continuum between the two statements. A large amount of time had to be spent in each interview explaining (over and over again!) that a score below 5 indicated agreement in varying degrees of strength with the statement on the left, 5 and 6 meant a lack of agreement or neutral feeling towards both statements with a forced preference to one, and a score between 7 and 10 indicated varying degrees of agreement with the statement on the right. Attempts at utilising the ‘counting stones’ scale assistance technique AND attempts at adapted show card representations failed as respondents were too confused by the fact that there were two statements involved in each question.”

the friends and family answers were not on a ten point scale, but they were on a four point scale (very/rather/not very/not at all important). perhaps that confused the respondents as well?

also, the report says that the interviews were conducted in amharic. well, iwitbb** only 29% of the ethiopian population speaks amharic. hmmmmm.

**if wikipedia is to be believed.

– georgia: seems to be a pretty good quality survey, except — abkhazia and ossetia were NOT included (*sigh* — well, what can you do?) — neither were some regions that were occupied by the russians at the time (are they still?).

– cyprus: the respondents in cyprus comprised 550 greek cypriots and 500 turkish cypriots [pg. 24 of report]. however, iwitbb, ca. 80% of cypriots are greek while only ca. 18% of cypriots are turkish. having said that, i would’ve thought that the presence of so many turkish cypriots in the survey would’ve made the difference between the “family” vs. “friends” score higher. it would be interesting to know — which i don’t — the areas of turkey from which the ancestors of today’s turkish cypriots hailed.

(note: comments do not require an email. “I have no friends, only relations!”)

kinship in anglo-saxon society ii

in the previous post on kinship in anglo-saxon society, we saw that, between ca. 600-1000 a.d., the anglo-saxons followed what’s known as the sudanese kinship naming system. in other words, like both the arabs and chinese today, the anglo-saxons had separate, distinct names for collateral kin including uncles, aunts, and cousins. as elsewhere in northwest europe, this naming system disappeared over the course of the medieval period to the point where, today, in english we no longer distinguish between father’s or mother’s brothers and so forth. this is probably related to the fact that the practice of (some degree of) cousin marriage amongst northwest europeans also disappeared over the course of the medieval period.

in this post, i want to look at the kindred in early medieval anglo-saxon society, and the fact that anglo-saxons reckoned their kinship bilaterally. again, i’ll be mostly working from lorraine lancaster’s two articles: Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society I and Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society II.

kindreds and bilateral kinship in anglo-saxon society

based on the two facts that 1) in old english (anglo-saxon english) there was, apparently, no way to distinguish the various degrees of cousins — i.e. a first cousin vs. a first cousin twice-removed, for instance, or even a first cousin vs. a sixth cousin — but 2) at the same time extended family relationships were very important in anglo-saxon society — for instance in the matter of wergeld and blood feuds (more about those below) — lancaster concluded that the most important kinship group amongst the anglo-saxons was not, say, the patrilineal clan (as amongst the irish and the scots — think the o’sullivans or the macdonalds) or the tribe (as amongst the arabs — think the sauds), but the kindred [I – pgs. 237-38]:

“The general characteristics of the [kin naming] system suggest three points: firstly, our belief that the *mægd* [“family,” “kinsmen,” or “kindred”] need not have been an extensive group is borne out by the restriction of specific terms to a relatively small set of kin centered on Ego; secondly, the complete lack of specificity in terms for cousins of various degrees, which would be all-important in the operation of a wide-ranging bilateral system, suggests that these kin and the distinctions between them was not regularly of major significance. Lineal ascendants could be traced back to *sixta fæder,* and in fact were traced back further in the historical and mythical genealogies of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.’ Nevertheless, the cousins who would share so remote and ancestor are not put in any particular linguistic category….”

and [II – pg. 372]:

“In Modern English society, the fact that surnames are inherited patrilineally is sometimes taken to indicate that the kinship system as a whole is a patrilineal one, although this is not so. In Anglo-Saxon society, there is no sign of what might be called patrinomial groups. Surnames did not regularly exist, although additional names could be given to a person to make his identification easier, a very reasonable thing when one considers the numbers of Ælfwines, Wulfrics, Æthelmaers, and so on that exited. Names of children appear to have been sometimes compounded from parents’ names, but there is no trace of reference to ‘the X’s’, as a named kin group.

More important, kin, named or not, were not organized into effective patrilineal descent groups, but, as we have seen, into Ego-centred bilateral kin groups….

a kin group that is focused on ego — on yourself — is known as a kindred. from my friend robin fox [pgs. 169-170 — see also]:

“[T]he stock of a kindred exists only in relation to a particular ego and it disappears when he dies. If a member of a cognatic lineage [like the macdonalds – h.chick] dies, the lineage still continues; when the focal ego of a kindred dies, then the stock are no more. The lineage then is defined relative to an ancestor who remains a fixed point of reference; the stocks of a kindred are defined relative to an ego….

The kindred can be broadly defined as ‘ego’s relatives up to a certain fixed degree’. What matters is how this ‘degree’ is defined. It need not be defined cognatically (or ‘bilaterally’ as it is usually called in the literature)….

“[T]he real distinction is between the two foci — ego and ancestor: between *descent groups* and *personal groups*.”

so, the family members that might be considered as kindred by wasps in today’s anglo world probably include something like: nuclear family members, both paternal and maternal grandparents, both paternal and maternal uncles and aunts, and all paternal and maternal cousins — and, perhaps, their kids, too (your first cousins once-removed). ymmv. (for those of us from more “clannish” groups, we also keep track of our second cousins and even our second cousins once-removed. (~_^) ) this is not the same as primarily keeping track of, say, just all your paternal relatives out to sixth cousins.

many groups of people keep track of both their kindreds and their clan or tribe members. the two things are not mutually exclusive. but, based on the historical evidence (mainly wills) lancaster and others (including phillpotts) concluded that anglo-saxon society was based upon the kindred and not patrilineal — or even matrilineal — clans or tribes.

furthermore (yes, there’s more!), anglo-saxon kinship and their kindreds were reckoned bilaterally. if you were an anglo-saxon, you would’ve traced your ancestors back along both your father’s and your mother’s line. (if wikipedia is to be believed, bilateral kinship groups arise in harsh environments and are beneficial since individuals have two sets of family upon which they can rely. that does seem as though it would fit northern europe.) the members of your kindred, too, came from both the paternal and maternal sides of your family (like in the anglo world today).

for example, from lancaster [II – pg. 370]:

“Kinsmen also had a duty to stand surety for Ego, or to support him with an oath. In II Athelstan I.3, we read that the kinsmen of a thief redeemed from prison by a fine were to stand surety that he would desist from thieving for ever. When an alleged thief had been slain, according to the same laws, the man who was demanding his wergild could come forward with three others, two from the paternal and one from the maternal kin and swear that their kinsman was innocent….”

so an anglo-saxon’s kinsmen — his kindred — came from both his paternal side of the family and his maternal side. but there was a bias towards the paternal side. we saw this, too, in the last post that there was a special term for a father’s brother but not a mother’s brother [I – pg. 237]:

“It is most significant that a term existed (*suhter-(ge)fæderan*) to refer to the relationship between a man and his father’s brother. There was no special term to refer to the corresponding relationship on Ego’s mother’s side.”

giorgio ausenda has also found this to have been the case in other pre-christian germanic groups (like the visigoths) — a bias in favor of the paternal side. based upon this, and the fact that the germanics were herders (lactase persistence!), ausenda concludes that the pre-christian germanics probably favored father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage like other herders (such as the arabs).

i doubt it and think, rather, that, if they favored any particular form of cousin marriage at all, and it’s not certain that they did, the germanics probably favored maternal cousin marriage. the fact that their kinship naming system was the sudanese system is not a good indicator of fbd marriage since the chinese also use the sudanese system, and they do not approve of fbd marriage at all. quite the reverse, in fact. also, it makes no sense to have a bilateral kinship system to reckon the paternal and maternal sides of the family in an fbd marriage society since, in such a society, one’s maternal side of the family IS (often) one’s paternal side of the family! they are one and the same.

so, no, i don’t think that the anglo-saxons and other germanics favored fbd marriage. if anything, it was probably mbd or mzd marriage.

so anglo-saxon society was based upon kindreds and not clans. i would still call them “clannish” though — but, perhaps, not quite as clannish as, say, their neighbors the medieval irish — or even today’s albanians. i would still call the anglo-saxons “clannish” — perhaps “mildly clannish” — since their society and its functioning was primarly based around one version of the extended family — the kindred. you as an individual would’ve had next to no identity in anglo-saxon society. your identity — including your legal identity (as seen above wrt sureties) — was based upon your kindred.

additionally, the whole wergeld system was alive and well throughout most of the anglo-saxon period — as were blood feuds (and if that’s not “clannish,” I don’t know what is!) [II – pgs. 367, 368, 370, 371]:

“A person’s position in a network of kinship relationship entails the performance of certain rights and duties as well as the carrying-out of less formal but likewise important expectations of behaviour. The rights and duties of Anglo-Saxon kinship represent that part of the system that has been most studied in the past, particularly the rights and duties connected with feud and wergild, because these are the most clearly described in the laws….

“What duties did a kin group owe to Ego? First and foremost, they owed him the duty of avenging his death, either by prosecuting a feud, or by exacting wergild payments. On the other hand, if Ego had killed or injured a man, he could expect some support from his kinsmen in helping him bear a feud or pay a wergild….

“[T]he kinsmen of a man injured or killed were entitled to compensation or wergild from the slayer and his kin or representatives….

“If compensation for deliberate harm done was not settled, a feud could be prosecuted. In feuding the legal solidarity of the kin group is demonstrated by the fact that one member of the slayer’s kin group is as good a victim for vengeance as the slayer himself. One could imagine a feud spreading among overlapping kin groups in a bilateral system. Edmund wished that a slayer should alone bear the feud (and thus stop it spreading from kin group to kin group [here you can see one reason why kings would want to get rid of clans – h.chick]) or, with the help of others, pay the wergild….”

anglo-saxons, then? still rather clannish even though they didn’t count themselves as members of (patrilineal) clans.

if i were to work up my own “hbd chick’s scale of clannishness” from one to ten, with today’s individualistic, nuclear-family-living (are they still?) english at “1” and the very fbd-marrying, paternal tribal arabs (and afghanis and pakistanis) at “10” — and let’s say the (historically) mbd-marrying, filial piety-focused chinese hovering somewhere around “5” or “6” — and the albanians at, maybe, “7” or “8” — i would put the anglo-saxons at maybe a “3” or a “4” — since only the kindreds seem to have been important and they had no clan lineages. that’s just a guesstimate on my part, though. i might decide to change the rankings depending upon what i learn about these different groups going forward. (^_^)

interestingly, lancaster notes that, although they hadn’t disappeared completely, the importance of kindreds did wane towards the end of the period she looked at (up to 1066). she also notes that phillpotts noted that kindreds were less significant in england than on the continent (ah ha!) [II – pgs. 373, 375]:

“Phillpotts has effectively demonstrated the weakness of Anglo-Saxon kin groups compared with certain related systems on the continent….

“During the period they [“friends”] gained continued importance as oath-helpers. After the end of the tenth century, it was even permissible for a feud to be prosecuted or wergild claimed by a man’s associates or guild-brothers. If murder was done *within* the guild, kinsmen again played a part….”

THAT is definitely a change!

so, as i asked at the beginning of the previous post: “were they [the anglo-saxons] individualistic, civic-minded, living in nuclear family groups, not clannish or tribal, nonviolent, and liberally democratic? or, perhaps, predisposed to these things in some way?”

my answers are: no, i don’t know, no, no, no, and no. and, possibly.

i say “possibly” since, because the anglo-saxons most likely did not (i think) practice fbd marriage, they probably were not extremely inbred. that, and the facts that their society was based on bilateral kinship and kindreds, in other words not sooo strongly clannish, might’ve meant that a relatively slight amount of outbreeding would’ve pushed them out of the levels of clannishness that they did display.

that, perhaps … and the fact that the normans came along and shook everything up [see here for example]. (more on THAT anon!)

previously: kinship in anglo-saxon society and english individualism and english individualism ii and english individualism iii and anglo-saxon mating patterns and more on anglo-saxon mating patterns

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kinship in anglo-saxon society

why are the english so special? why do they have such a strong sense of individualism (see here and here and here and here)? or are so civic-minded? why do they live in (absolute) nuclear families? why are they not clannish or tribal? why are they so nonviolent — and why did their levels of violence start to decrease so long ago? how come it was the english who pretty much invented liberal democracy?

i think a lot of these things have to do with england’s outbreeding project which began sometime in the early medieval period (see here and here), but could there have been something special about the pre-christian anglo-saxons (or danes — think the danelaw — see this comment and subsequent discussion)? were they individualistic, civic-minded, living in nuclear family groups, not clannish or tribal, nonviolent, and liberally democratic? or, perhaps, predisposed to these things in some way?

well, i can hardly answer all of those in just a blog post (and, to be honest, i don’t know the answer to most of them), but i’ll try to address a couple of them by taking a look at anglo-saxon kinship (the anglo-saxons after they got to england). i’ll be mostly working from lorraine lancaster’s two articles: Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society I and Kinship in Anglo-Saxon Society II. from what i can make out, lancaster’s work on anglo-saxon kinship between ca. the 600s-1000s, which was published in 1958, is still considered to be the definitive one — anything i read about anglo-saxon society and/or kinship always refers back to her. so, let’s see what she had to say.

kinship terms for collateral kin

in this previous post, we saw how kinship terms amongst germans on the continent became less precise over the course of the middle ages. the different terms for “father’s brother” and “mother’s brother” were collapsed into a single term for “uncle.” similarly, previously existing differentiating terms for the various cousins — “father’s brother’s daughter” or “mother’s brother’s daughter” — got collapsed into just “cousin.”

there are probably a lot of good reasons for having separate, distinct terms for all your family members, but one of the most important ones (i think) is to distinguish for yourself and everybody around you who can marry whom (see also julian pitt-rivers’ “The Kith and the Kin”). so, in societies where a certain form of cousin marriage is preferred — like father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage amongst the arabs (see here) or mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage traditionally amongst the chinese (see here and here) — all of the cousins get specific names (this is known as the sudanese kinship form). (check out all the names for paternal and maternal relatives in the chinese kinship system!)

another way of naming kin is the system most common in the west, and the system we have in the english speaking world, and that is where we do not distinguish between different uncles or aunts or cousins. one’s cousin is one’s cousin, end of discussion. this is probably a result of the fact that, throughout the medieval period in europe, cousin marriage was prohibited by the church and frequently by secular authorities as well. since it became no longer necessary to distinguish one cousin from another — since ALL of them were off-limits to marry — they all eventually became known as simply “cousins” (or whatever term you happen use in your western european language). (this is known as the eskimo kinship form, btw — although why lewis h. morgan dubbed it that i don’t know since most of the eskimo groups i’ve read about don’t use this form!)

so what about the anglo-saxons in early medieval england? well, wikipedia tells us that they used the sudanese kinship system. and from lorraine lancaster [I – pg. 237]:

“There was a distinction drawn between ‘father’s brother’ and ‘mother’s brother’ which is not preserved in the modern English ‘uncle’ (<Latin *avunculus*). A father's brother was *fædera* and a mother's brother, *eam*…. The terms *nefa* and *genefa* seem to have been general ones, applicable to both a brother's and a sister's son, but *suhterga* and *geswiria* served to specify a brother's son and the term *swustorsunu* was, as its form suggests, only applicable to a sister's son.

“It is most significant that a term existed (*suhter-(ge)fæderan*) to refer to the relationship between a man and his father's brother. There was no special term to refer to the corresponding relationship on Ego's mother's side.

“The words *nift* and *nefena* appear to have applied to either a brother's or a sister's daughter, in the same manner as we use 'niece'. But the more specific terms *brodor-dohtor* (‘brother’s daughter’) and *sweostor-dohtor* (‘sister’s daughter’) were also used….

*Sugterga*, which we have already noted in the context of brother’s son, could also express the relationship of those whose fathers were brothers, that is, parallel cousins on the father’s side. Another term for this relationship was *fæderan sunu* (i.e. ‘father’s brother’s son’). The corresponding relationship of parallel cousins on the mother’s side could also be specifically denoted: The word *sweor* (also used for ‘father-in-law’) represented a cousin german, probably on the mother’s side, while such a cousin could be more accurately described as *gesweostrenu bearn* (‘child of sisters’) or *moddrian sunu* (‘mother’s sister’s son’).

this is very similar to the sort of cousin naming system that arabs today have — there aren’t unique words for “father’s brother’s son,” but the relationship is simply spelled out quite literally:

– father’s brother’s son = fæderan sunu = ibn ʿamm.

it’s likely, therefore, given the cousin naming system of the anglo-saxons — and the fact that the church offered dispensations to newly converted anglo-saxons who were married to their cousins, as well as the fact that many secular laws were passed in several of the anglo-saxon kingdoms banning cousin marriage (see here and here) — that cousin marriage was not uncommon amongst the pre-christian — and post-christian for a while! — anglo-saxons.

interestingly, lancaster points out that there weren’t any (many?) terms for more distant cousins in old english. there didn’t seem to be a way to say, for instance, “first cousin once-removed” amongst the anglo-saxons.

this leads into the idea of the anglo-saxon kindred (and their bilateral kinship reckoning) … which i’ll get into in my next post. stay tuned!

update 12/11: see also kinship in anglo-saxon society ii

previously: english individualism and english individualism ii and english individualism iii and anglo-saxon mating patterns and more on anglo-saxon mating patterns

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corruption perceptions index 2012

transparency international has released their 2012 corruption perceptions index (h/t jayman!).

here are the top 10 least corrupt countries:

cpi 2012 - top 10

and here are the bottom 10, i.e. the most corrupt countries:

cpi 2012 - bottom 10

not much has changed since last year when the top 3 least corrupt countries were new zealand, denmark and finland — just the ranking a bit (well, actually, they’re all tied for first this year, aren’t they?).

and the most corrupt countries last year: afghanistan, myanmar (or can we say burma again?), north korea and somalia — this year: sudan, afghanistan, north korea and somalia. myanmar improved its ranking to fifth worst.

previously: same old, same old

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familism in the u.s. – whites by region

jayman says/asks:

“Theoretically, Red Staters are more able to depend on extended family. But here’s a question on the matter: is that true *today*? Are Whites in the South and West *today* more kin-centric? My (somewhat limited) experience in those parts of the country seems to indicate that they’re just about as individualistic as Blue Staters. I understand that kin-groups are still a major feature in Appalachia, but how about the rest of red America?”


ok. so i looked at the “behavioral familism” related questions in the 2002 gss to see how whites in the different regions of the u.s. responded to the following questions:

– “How often do you contact your uncles/aunts?”
– “How often do you contact your nieces/nephews?”
– “How often do you contact your cousin(s)?”

the possible answers were:

– “More than twice in last 4 weeks.”
– “Once or twice in last 4 weeks.”
– “Not at all in last 4 weeks.”
– “I have no living relative of this type.”

as before, i collapsed the first two possible answers together to make a sorta “yes” repsonse (“yes, i’ve contacted that person in the last 4 weeks”).

here’s what i found (sorry, you might need your glasses to read these — wordpress has fixed it so that you can’t see a LARGER image in a new tab/window anymore. grrrrrr!):

gss 2002 - familism - u.s. whites - contact uncles & aunts

gss 2002 - familism - u.s. whites - contact newphews & nieces

gss 2002 - familism - u.s. whites - contact cousins

the patterns i see are:

east south central (alabama, kentucky, mississippi and tennessee), a consistently red state area, comes in twice with the highest ranking — and is above the national average on those two questions.
new england, a consistently blue state area, comes in once with the highest ranking — and, in fact, is above the national average on all three questions. so no one can accuse the new englanders of not being oriented towards the extended family!

the above average scorers on the three questions were (map of regions here):

new england – above average 3 times
east south central – 2 times
east north central (wi, il, mi, in, oh) – 2 times
west south central (tx, ok, ar, la) – 2 times
west north central (nd, sd, ne, ks, mn, ia, mo) – 2 times
south atlantic (de, md, dc, va, wv, nc, sc, ga, fl) – once

– the pacific states (ak, wa, or, ca, hi), a mostly blue region (with the exception of alaska), came in twice with the lowest ranking.
– the mountain states, a mostly red region, came in once with the lowest ranking.

the below average scorers on the three questions were (map of regions here):

pacific – 3 times
mountain – 3 times
middle atlantic (NEW YORK! nj & pa) – 3 times
west north central (nd, sd, ne, ks, mn, ia, mo) – one time
south atlantic (de, md, dc, va, wv, nc, sc, ga, fl) – one time
east north central (wi, il, mi, in, oh) – one time

to me, it seems like there’s an east-west divide — white familism decreases around the rocky mountains and gets even lower on the west coast. i should’ve made some maps. maybe i’ll work on that.

so, back to jayman’s question: “Are Whites in the South and West *today* more kin-centric?”

yes, whites in the south are pretty kin-centric, but not so much in the west. and new englanders are very kin-centric — so there! (^_^) new yorkers are not.

i’ve got the data for african-americans, too, so i’ll check them out in another post.

previously: familism in the u.s. of a. and hispanic family values

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