something greying wanderer said recently (thanks, grey!)…
“I think at a bare minimum there’ll be family resemblance which on average ought to be increased by inbreeding through linkage effects. I’m not sure if that’s generally accepted or not?”
…got me to thinking about family honor, honor killings, and family likeness.
first of all, family honor: i haven’t done a systematic study of it yet, but all indications are that family honor is more important — oftentimes much more important — in long-term inbreeding societies than long-term outbreeding ones. family honor expresses itself in behaviors like feuding and honor killings. many of the usual suspects are included here (from wikipedia):
– the middle east – noted example, the bedouins
– south asia: afghanistan, pakistan, and india
– china and japan: not so much honor killings as not disgracing the family by failing your exams!
– europe: the mediterranean region – “In Italy, infidelity of women was seen dishonorable, thus crimes of passion were classified as second-degree murders until 1970s.” (from here.)
– the old south (u.s.a.)
– hispanic cultures – including brazil.
and about honor in northern european societies (from here – my emphasis):
“[I]n Northern Europe it has a more individualized meaning that is focused on personal accomplishments and qualities.”
anyway, so i think it’s pretty safe to bet that family honor issues go together, for whatever reasons (i have my own ideas on the matter, of course), with long-term inbreeding. we’ve seen before that honor killings really seem to be connected to father’s brother’s daughter’s (fbd) marriage, which is mostly practiced in the arab world/north africa/middle east/parts of south asia and which pushes towards greater degrees of inbreeding (than other forms of cousin marriage).
what about family likeness then? do the members of long-term inbreeding families look more like one another, on average, than the members of long-term outbreeding families? do they share more personality traits with one another? do they behave, on average, more like one another? i don’t know — and i don’t know of any research looking into these questions (anybody?).
are they indicative at all of what you get with long-term inbreeding? i really don’t know.
but let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that the members of long-term inbreeding families are more like one another on average than the members of outbreeding families, and that the likeness is not just in appearance but also in personality traits, behaviors, etc. perhaps this (if it’s true) might help explain honor killings.
family honor, at least with regard to honor killings, is a public thing. from what i’ve read — and i’m sorry that i don’t have any references at hand at the moment — honor killings usually happen when the trangression becomes publically known, or at least becomes known outside the immediate family. in societies where family honor is important, people don’t typically kill their errant daughters if they can keep their bad behavior a secret — that would be a waste of all the time and effort and money invested in raising her, and it obviously must be emotionally a very difficult thing to do (although maybe the family honor feelings over-ride that to some extent?).
honor killings are a sort of altruistic act, and i mean altruistic in the scientific meaning of the word (from here)…
“[A]ltruism refers to behaviour by an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor.”
…but in the case of honor killings, the altruistic behavior of the actor (the person who kills the daughter) doesn’t result in the decreasing of the actor’s own fitness, but, rather, the daughter’s (obviously). and, then, it’s the fitness of other members of the family that would be increased, namely any young family members who are of reproductive age or younger, since if the family honor is tarnished, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get spouses for the other children. i half-jokingly referred to this before as “inclusive inclusive fitness” — you’re not sacrificing your own fitness to benefit another’s (whose genes you share), you’re sacrificing someone else’s — but you share a lot of genes with them, too, so in a way you are sacrificing the fitness of your own genes, just not those in your own person.
what if the underlying reason driving honor killings is because, in inbred societies, everybody knows from loooong experience that family members are really *very* like one another, so then, of course, you’d NEVER marry your kid to a member of THAT family because they had that one daughter who behaved very badly, and — conclusion — the rest of the family is probably like that, too?! maybe it’s crucial, then, for a family in an inbreeding society to distance itself from its badly behaving member by sacrificing her (and it usually is a her) in order to show the rest of society that the remaining members of the family do NOT condone the behavior and, implying, that they would never, EVER behave that way themselves.
don’t know. just an idea.
see also: Family honor and Cultures of honour and cultures of law
previously: father’s brother’s daughter marriage and why fbd marriage amounts to more inbreeding than mbd marriage and father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage and honor killings and inclusive inclusive fitness and mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures
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