clans in the news: potpourri

remember that hmong shooting the other day? when five people were shot?:

“Hmong shootings may have been motivated by grudge”

“A grudge could be the motive in a shooting that put five people in the hospital.

“‘It is a wake-up call to all of us,’ said Linda Lor.

“She is the former executive director for the Hmong Association in Tulsa. On Saturday night there was a Xiong family reunion with all of the clans. In the Hmong community, a family group is known by clans and are divided by last names….

“‘We try in every possible way to mediate the problem through the clan leaders,’ said Lor.

“She said there are about 10 Hmong clans in Tulsa and 200 families. The family leader of the clan will help resolve issues such as marriages, divorce or children or they go to court, which will cost money. In some cases, they make a big statement but are not known to resort to violence like the incident on Saturday….

“She said there was a grudge with the Lees that no one knew about it….”
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this is not a big surprise:

“Arab municipal elections [in israel] dependent on family connections, not ideology”

“Arab towns and villages are likely to have a higher turnout in next week’s municipal elections, compared to Jewish areas. However, unlike Jewish areas, where votes are seen as based on ideology, party, or the experience and skills of the candidates, Arab areas tend to vote for candidates based on family or hamula (‘clan’) connections.

“In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Sami Miaari, an Israeli Arab lecturer at Tel Aviv University in the department of labor studies and a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, said that participation in Arab municipalities will most likely show a 90 percent participation rate.

“The elections in the Arab villages are a struggle between clans and families, with the more powerful families winning the most votes, said Miaari….

“In the Arab sector, families are able to bring out the votes by offering benefits and by tapping into group loyalty and tradition, he said.”
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albanian gangs. eeek!:

“The Albanian mafia under investigation”

“According to the National Anti-Mafia Directorate – an organ of the Italian State’s General Attorney for the fight against organized crime, the Albanian mafia has gained a leading role in Italy’s drug market….

“Albanian crime organisations, usually small to medium size, are based on blood ties and family relationships. ‘Albanian crime is a maze made of many, small groups’, explains Enzo Ciconte, university professor and historian, author of Mafie straniere in Italia. Storia ed evoluzione (Foreign Mafia in Italy. History and Evolution, Rubbettino, 2003). The criminal network is made of ‘people of the village’, people related to each other. This discourages drop-out. As happens with Calabrian clans, fighting silence is not easy. Law enforcement and judges have a tough challenge to deal with.

“Missing pieces

“Some pieces are, however, missing in the photograph of Albanian crime in Italy. First of all, nobody seems to have an idea of the business turnover. Second, who are the clans? Where are they rooted? Which national crime organisation are they emanation of? According to the DCSA, here there is a serious identification issue, since Albanian law allows to change identity with a simple procedure at the local municipal office in one’s place of residence, which suggests that adopting a new name and surname might be common practice among traffickers.

“However, the lack of information about clans and their turnover may also hint that the police struggles even more than usual in hunting down Albanian criminal groups….”
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somali pirates? funded by clan chiefs. h/t mark weiner!:

“Captain Phillips: the forgotten hostages”

“A former Royal Signals officer, he [colonel john steed] first dealt with piracy cases while serving as defence attaché to the British Embassy between 2007 and 2009, during which the British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler were taken hostage. Recently he worked on counter-piracy issues for the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, but when that office was restructured earlier this year, he set up a new mission, the Secretariat for Regional Maritime Security, to try to resolve the most intractable hostage cases.

“It is not as grand as the title sounds. While the UN has agreed to fund one of his staff, he runs it out of his house in a Nairobi suburb, and does not get paid himself. ‘I am doing it out of the kindness of my heart,’ he says.

“So how does he persuade the pirates to hand over their hostages without a ransom? ‘With great difficulty,’ comes the answer. Most pirate gangs, he points out, are themselves in debt to clan chiefs who have funded their missions, and are reluctant to accept that they have picked one of the few boats whose owners cannot pay a ransom. In previous cases, though, they have been persuaded to accept a cut-and-run payment for their ‘expenses’, which can sometimes be arranged via a whip-round in the shipping industry….”
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previously: clans in the news: syria

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tsarnaev third cousin a prominent islamist in dagestan

and tamerlan hung out with him:

“Exclusive: Dagestani Relative of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Is a Prominent Islamist”

“Last year, when Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months in the Russian region of Dagestan, he had a guide with an unusually deep knowledge of the local Islamist community: a distant cousin named Magomed Kartashov. Six years older than Tsarnaev, Kartashov is a former police officer and freestyle wrestler—and one of the region’s most prominent Islamists.

“In 2011 Kartashov founded and became the leader of an organization called the Union of the Just, whose members campaign for sharia law and pan-Islamic unity in Dagestan, often speaking out against U.S. policies across the Muslim world. The group publicly renounces violence. But some of its members have close links to militants; others have served time in prison for weapons possession and abetting terrorism — charges they say were based on fabricated evidence. For Tsarnaev, these men formed a community of pious young Muslims with whom he could discuss his ideas of jihad. Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat, confirmed that her son is Kartashov’s third cousin. The two met for the first time in Dagestan, she said, and ‘became very close….’

“The Union of the Just is a tight group of activists based in Kizlyar, a town of about 50,000 people in the plains of northern Dagestan. Tsarnaev, whose parents live 90 miles away in the regional capital, Makhachakhla, often travelled to Kizlyar to stay with Kartashov and hang out with his friends.”

i’m going to guess that kartashov is the tsarnaev brothers’ third cousin on their mother’s side, since kartashov is from dagestan (like the tsarnaevs’ mom) and from a town where there are a lot of avars (like the tsarnaevs’ mom).

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thank you, war nerd!

here’s the war nerd on syria:

“War Nerd: Our Ringers vs. Your Ringers”

“When you look at this war strictly as a military struggle, you notice something weird: over two years of fighting, the lines are almost totally static….

“If you look at a map of sectarian demographics in Syria, and superimpose it on a map showing areas of Assad control and rebel-held regions, you’ll see that the two maps are almost identical. And the front lines haven’t changed much since the Sunni grabbed control of their neighborhoods two years ago…. The lines held by the Sunni, Shi’ia and Kurds barely move.

“And by the way, I’m going to talk about Sunni, Alawite, Shi’ia, and Kurds, because that’s what matters in Syria. This is a sectarian war, and pretending it isn’t is just pious nonsense. As long as you keep in mind that in the Levant, ‘sect’ means an ethnic group as much as a religion. And if that seems weird, try thinking of a classic Levantine sectarian outpost you may have heard of, the one called ‘Israel.’ Are Israeli Jews a religion or an ethnic group, a people? Both, more or less — a very sloppy, leaky Venn diagram. Religion works as an ethnic marker for most groups in the Levant, not just the Israelis. And the fact that there are always outliers, people too noble or crazy or sophisticated to be defined by their sect, doesn’t change the fact that for most people, the sect is what defines you.

“Once you see how deeply this sectarian identity works, you can start to understand why this war is so static. In urban sectarian warfare, most fights are about the neighborhood, keeping the neighborhood in your sect’s hands, away from the heretics two streets over. You grow up fighting the kids from over there, first with words, then with rocks, then with whatever firearms you can borrow from your cousins. For Anglos, the paradigm for this kind of war is Belfast and Derry. The war there started with neighborhood defenders in places like the Short Strand trying to hold their little block of row houses against the other sect.

“Americans have a hard time imagining how tiny this kind of war can be. In this country you can drive for 14 hours and pull over to the same intersection, with exactly the same McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Day’s Inn, Starbucks, Super 8 and Motel 6. The accents’d be the same, the burgers’d be the same, the price of gas’d might change by a penny or two.

“In a place like Aleppo (or Belfast), every street takes a side….

“This encourages people to ‘think local.’ Which means they’re very good when they fight to hold their neighborhoods, but useless in big offensives. Even raw irregulars can do very well fighting on their own turf. But they’re useless when you try to get them to organize into an offensive army. Why risk the neighborhood’s crop of young men on somebody else’s neighborhood? Not only could you lose half your cousins, but while you and the cuzzies are out there grandstanding, somebody could be invading your neighborhood. You just don’t leave your neighborhood unmanned in a sectarian war, ever. Not if you have living female relatives. In ugly wars like this, you’re not afraid of what the enemy will do to you but to your kin — the really sick people are encouraged to get creative in horrible ways; merely murdering your neighbor gets old fast.

So most of the locals in this war only want to hold their block of houses, basically as far as kin and sectarian ties hold. Ask them to form up and move out for bigger operations, and they’ll fade away. Lots of promises — and then the quiet skedaddle….

great stuff! read the whole thing here.

previously: syria and syrian tribes and more on syrian marriage and family types and clans in the news: aleppo and clans in the news: syria

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dagestani avars

*update below*

just a reminder that, while the boston bombers — the tsarnaev brothers — are chechen, they are also avars (on their mother’s side). not that that should make too much difference as far as the tsarnaevs being clannish, since the avars are clannish, too.

there are only ca. three million people in dagestan and yet there are several dozen ethnic groups there, one of which is the avars. and then the avars, in turn, are further subdivded in 15+ sub-ethnic groups (who knows which one mrs. tsarnaev comes from), which are further subdivided into tribes (tukkhums), clans (teips), extended families and so on. THIS is a clannish society.

from The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus (2008) [pg. 10 – links added by me]:

The Chechens are now considered exemplary of the mountaineers’ historic resistance to Russian rule, but that repuation is only partly deserved. People who lived much higher in the mountains — the Svans and Khevsurs of northern Georgia, for example — were generally the most antipathetic to outsiders; their religious practices, infused with animist beliefs, set them farthest apart from their Christian and Muslim neighbors. The real engine of the highlander uprisings of the nineteenth century lay farther to the east, in Dagestan. The very name of the region — literally ‘the mountainous land’ — is evidence of its central geographical feature: mountains and plateaus cut by fast-flowing rivers. A congeries of distinct languages and customs has long been characteristic of the area, with social ties formed along lines of clans, extended families, and village groupings. The major ethnic groups — the Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, and Lezgins, among others, with none accounting for more than 30 percent of the population — today represent the dominant factions in Dagestan’s precarious balance of regional, ethnic, and clan interests.”
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we hear a similar message about the dagestanis (and also learn some more about the chechens) in The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad (2010) [pgs. 72-73 – links added by me]:

“Research on the *wirds* and *teips* (clans and families) of the Chechens is difficult to collect and the findings generally frustrate the Western desire for order and clarity. But what this research has demonstrated by its inability to draw straight lines is that *there aren’t straight lines* and the Chechen and Dagestani (or Ingush, Kabard, and Balkarian among others) cultures are not vertical structures, or ‘power verticals’ to use the current Russian vernacular. The Muslim faith is a relatively flat hierarchy to begin with, but by looking at the mountaineer culture and its imposition of yet another layer of clan hierarchy on top of the religious one, it is easy to understand why the Caucasians have so much success at insurgent warfare. North Caucasus social structures are perfect for conducting guerilla and terrorist activity because their societies are already a culture of ‘cells,’ and as we’ve seen, cellular organizations with a high degree of loyalty are paramount to insurgencies. Because familial loyalty sometimes trumps religious authority, and because those same clan are often competing among themselves for status and hegemony, those societal ‘fractures’ were — and still are — exploited by the Russians….

“This particular characteristic of Caucasus culture is what gives it strength as an insurgency and yet ultimately keeps it weak when it comes time to make the final move toward independence.[24]”

“[24] Although Chechnya has been the primary focus of this book thus far, the Dagestanis have been as much a part of this conflict as anyone else. As of this writing, there are more attacks taking place in Dagestan than in Chechnya. The internal dynamics of Dagestan are even more fractured than Chechnya. Aside from the religious and family aspects, Dagestan is made up of more than 13 different ethnic groups — of which the Avars, Dargins, and Lezgins still comprise less than 60 percent of the population. In addition, there are Laks, Tabasarans, Rutuls, Aguls, Tsakhurs, Kumyks, Nogais, Azeris, Chechens, and Russians, and another 40 or so tiny groups numbering only about 200 total — and they all speak their own language — making Chechnya and its Vainakh cousin Ingushetia look downright homogenous.

clannishness is a strength. and at the same time, clannishness is a weakness.

and that quote about north caucasus social structures being perfect for basing insurgencies upon merits repeating:

“North Caucasus social structures are perfect for conducting guerilla and terrorist activity because their societies are already a culture of ‘cells,’ and as we’ve seen, cellular organizations with a high degree of loyalty are paramount to insurgencies.”

yup.
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dagestan is a mess, and the russians have had to invest heavily in security there. Russia’s Battle with Crime, Corruption and Terrorism (2008) [pgs. 163-165 – links added by me]:

“[T]he personnel strength of the law-enforcement and security task forces in Dagestan was amongst the highest nationwide. The Interior Ministry’s personnel in Dagestan totals 25,000, meaning there is one policeman for every 100 citizens — one of the highest concentrations of policemen in Russia. Dagestan is also the only Russian region that has a specialized department to fight religious extremism within the local branch of the Interior Ministry.

“Information about the number of security officers in the republic is not publically available, but judging by media reports about anti-terrorist and anti-extremist activities in Dagestan, one can presume that the local branch of the FSB is well equipped in terms of manpower and resources. Local agents are reinforced by investigative teams sent on missions from other regional branches of the FSB. The republic is also home to four military brigades and several untis of the Federal Border Guard Service, which are stationed at the borders with Azerbaijan and Georgia in the south and southwest of the republic….

“Dagestani law-enforcement officers are overwhelmingly recruited locally and are active participants in power struggles among local clans and ethnic groups. This circumstance may be a contributing factor in perpetuating the assassination campaign, as the strongest political players in Dagestan may not be interested in pursuing a consolidated campgaign against the attackers, but would prefer to exploit the assassinations for their own political benefit….”

this part might be relevant to the boston bombing:

“In September 1999, Dagestan became the first Russian region to enacts its own law designed to fight religious and other forms of extremism. The republic’s parliament passed the law, entitled ‘On Countering Wahhabism and Other Extremist Activity,’ shortly after Islamist militants led by Shamil Basayev invaded Dagestan from the territory of the then independent Chechnya….

“Dagestan’s anti-extremism law provided a pretext for massive crackdowns by the republic’s law-enforcement agencies on practicing Muslims, and these routinely ended with extortion and abuses. The law also allowed police to detain individuals on such charges as possession of ‘extremist’ literature. These and other actions by the authorities have obstructed freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly in Dagestan.

“As attacks against government targets rose, law-enforcement gradually widened the scop of its crackdown to target Muslims who preached individually. This move backfired, with dozens of abused young Muslim men joining anti-goverment insurgent groups or creating their own….”

finally:

“[T]he right of citizens to equal access to the civil service cannot be realized in Dagestan, since existing legislation and tacit agreements among the republic’s elite have put control of state jobs firmly in the hands of local clans and even failed to ensure rotation of the representatives of ethnic groups in these posts as had been required by the previous version of Dagestan’s Constitution.

“These legal provisions served to keep several clans — dominating all three branches of power — at the helm in Dagestan, and these groups have a deep vested interest in preserving the status quo.”

clannishness is a weakness.
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dagestanis marry their cousins more regularly than chechens (chechens really do not, except perhaps for maternal third cousins). i’m not sure if this includes the avars or not. further research is required.

from Potentials of Disorder: Explaining Conflict and Stability in the Caucasus (2003) [pg. 120]:

“Evidence of the deep differences between Dagestanis and Chechens in the organisation of life is that among Dagestanis it is permissible and even encouraged for cousins to marry, whereas Chechens are still categorically opposed to marriages even with the same *teip*, i.e. between relatives through the father’s line, the unity of which can be traced deep into antiquity, over the distance of ten-fifteen generations; there cannot be marital relations as they are still considered ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.”

and from Cultures of the World: Dagestan [pgs. 70=71]:

“In most ethnic groups, people married inside their clan and, very often, they married their cousins….

“These traditions have gradually begun to change. More and more often, young people find partners of their own choosing, and marrying within one’s own ethnic group or clan has become less of a social or economic imperative. Although some people still prefer to subscribe to this once traditional pattern, inter-ethnic marriages are common in the republic’s cities. While Dagestani women usually marry men from other Dagestani ethnic groups, Dagestani men more and more often marry Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian women.”
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update: stealin’ this from anatoly — a tweet from the younger tsarnaev brother (notice the hashtags):

jahar tweet
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for more on the avars see One Europe, many nations: a historical dictionary of European national groups, pg. 67+.

see also: Parallel Evolution of Genes and Languages in the Caucasus Region

previously: those clannish chechens and random notes: 04/22/13

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random notes: 04/22/13

the tsarnaev brothers’ mother is an avar from dagestan, not a chechen (their father is chechen [or is he? see below]):

“Hunt for Boston Clues Reveals Tanged Caucasus Web”

“… The brothers’ mother, Zubeidat, is an ethnic Avar, the predominant ethnic group in Dagestan, their father told The Wall Street Journal. Dagestan itself is inhabited by dozens of ethnicities and is home to mushrooming Salafist groups preaching the implementation of Sharia law in the republic.

“Having an Avar for a mother makes the brothers only half Chechen, but the fact that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan are still being labeled as fully Chechen in the international media only highlights how difficult it can be to get through the ethnic complexity of the North Caucasus. …”

not that knowing that someone is an avar makes anything clearer, since there are over a dozen (13? 15?) sub-ethnic groups amongst the avar of dagestan (no, i don’t understand any of it either!).

see also: Boston Marathon Bombings: Turn to Religion Split Bomb Suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Home
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the avars (and other peoples of dagestan) are clannish, too — from Shamanic Journeys Through Daghestan [pgs. 1-3]:

“With its mountainous terrain making travel and communication difficult, Daghestan is still largely tribal and, unlike in most other parts of Russia, the population (2,576,531 in 2002) is rapidly growing. Despite over a century of Tsarist control followed by seventy years of repressive Soviet rule, there are still 32 distinct ethnic groups, each with its own language, and Avar is the most widely spoken with about 700,000 speakers. With so many indigenous ethnic groups, Daghestan is unquestionably the most complex of the Caucasian republics.

“In the lowlands can be found Turkic nomads: Kumyks, Noghays, and a few displaced Turkomans. In the northern highlands are the Avars, the Andis, Karatas, Chamalals, Bagwalals, Akhwakhs, Botlikhs, Godoberis, and Tindis. Still in the high valleys but going south toward the Georgian border are the Tsez (Dido), Gionukhs, Hunzibs, Khwarshis, and Bezhitas (Kapuchis). South of the Avar are the Laks, Dargwas, Kubachis, and Khaidaqs, all forming a related group of peoples. In one high village, standing apart from them, are the Archies, whose links lie further south with the so-called Lezgian peoples: the Aghuls, Tabasarans, and Rutuls. A few of the Lezgis and most of the Tsakhurs spill over into Azerbaijan in the south. Other Daghesantis who are restricted to northern Azerbaijan are the Kryz in one mountain village and three coastal ones, Buduks (one mountain village), Udis (two mountain villages), and Khinalugs (one mountain village). There is also a group called ‘Mountain Jews’ (Givrij or Dagchifut) who speak an Iranian language in Daghestan. They are sometimes called ‘Tats,’ but are not to be confused with the Muslim Tats further south on the Aspheron peninsula of Azerbaijan. In addition there are a few Daghestani Cossacks who are strongly assimilaed to indigenous patterns.

“Colarusso (1997) who compiled the above list, stresses that all thirty-two

“‘are distinct peoples, however small they may be, with their own languages, customs, costumes, arts, and architectures. Many are further subdivided by tribes, clans, and bloodlines. Conversely, most will traditionally form larger units for self-defence when threatened. This is particularly true of the smaller peoples of Daghestan. In ethnographic, social, and political terms the Caucasus is like a minature continent.’

“To give some idea of the problems caused by the linguistic mix, despite the fact that Dargi and Avar are spoken by people living side by side with each other they are in fact mutually incomprehensible languages (see Chenciner et al, 1997, p.9). Multilingualism is therefore virtually universal. Nearly everyone speaks Russian in addition to their own language, and many have some command of several neighbouring languages too….

Most of the ethnic groups ‘are subdivided into *tukhums*, or extended family clans, which traditionally did not intermarry and often fought long blood feuds. The *tukhum* managed the village affairs and laws. Today, the *tukhum* still functions as a unit, but to greatly varying degrees among different ethnic groups of the mountain land…. In the villages of Daghestan, the clans have their own tea houses in which their members gather.”

sounds familiar.
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i tried to find out which teip (clan) [tайп] the tsarnaev family belongs to, but didn’t have any luck. not being able to read either russian or chechen didn’t make the project any easier!

i did, however, find out what village and region in chechnya the father’s family is originally from:

“Boston accusations shock brothers’ Kyrgyz hometown”

“…their native village of Chiri-Yurt in Chechnya….”

here is chiri-yurt [Чири-Юрт], which is in the shalinsky district of the chechen republic. according to the russian wikipedia page for chiri-yurt [google translation]:

In 1944, after the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush, and the elimination of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic village of Chiri-Yurt was renamed Nadreche and populated by immigrants from neighboring Dagestan.[8] After the restoration of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, locality returned the former name of Chiri-Yurt.”

so … wait. does that mean that the chiri-yurtians (and, therefore, the tsarnaevs) are actually dagestanis and not chechens? i’m so confused….

also, an interesting tidbit from that haaretz article. recall that the tsarnaevs had been refugees in tokmok, kyrgyzstan:

“In Tokmok, the Tsarnaev clan alone inhabited a whole street before most of them moved back to their native village of Chiri-Yurt in Chechnya in the 1960s, residents said.”
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finally, some neat towers from chechnya! these aren’t tower houses built to protect clans during blood feuds. instead these are a part of some larger fortress (built 800-900 years ago? in the 800-900s?) guarding the argun gorge which is near chiri-yurt. i thought they were cool!:

Башни_в_Чечне
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previously: those clannish chechens

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where do clans come from?

in “Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origins and Implications of Western Corporations,” stanford economist avner greif wrote [pgs. 308-09]:

“There is a vast amount of literature that considers the importance of the family as an institution. Little attention, however, has been given to the impact of the family structure and its dynamics on institutions. This limits our ability to understand distinct institutional developments — and hence growth — in the past and present. This paper supports this argument by highlighting the importance of the European family structure in one of the most fundamental institutional changes in history and reflects on its growth-related implications.

“What constituted this change was the emergence of the economic and political corporations in late medieval Europe. Corporations are defined as consistent with their historical meaning: intentionally created, voluntary, interest-based, and self-governed permanent associations. Guilds, fraternities, universities, communes, and city-states are some of the corporations that have historically dominated Europe; businesses and professional associations, business corporations, universities, consumer groups, counties, republics, and democracies are examples of corporations in modern societies….

“In tracing the origins of the European corporations, we focus on their complementarity with the nuclear family. We present the reasons for the decline of kinship groups in medieval Europe and why the resulting nuclear family structure, along with other factors, led to corporations. European economic growth in the late medieval period was based on an unprecedented institutional complex of corporations and nuclear families, which, interestingly, still characterizes the West. More generally, European history suggests that this complex was conducive to long-term growth, although we know little about why this was the case or why it is difficult to transplant this complex to other societies….

“The conquest of the Western Roman Empire by Germanic tribes during the medieval period probably strengthened the importance of kinship groups in Europe. Yet the actions of the church caused the nuclear family — consisting of a husband and wife, children, and sometimes a handful of close relatives — to dominate Europe by the late medieval period.

The medieval church instituted marriage laws and practices that undermined kinship groups…. The church … restricted marriages among individuals of the same blood (consanguineous marriages), which had historically provided one means of creating and maintaining kinship groups….

“European family structures did not evolve monotonically toward the nuclear family, nor was their evolution geographically or socially uniform (Greif, 2006, chap. 8).** By the late medieval period, however, the nuclear family was dominant. Even among the Germanic tribes, by the eighth century the term ‘family’ denoted one’s immediate family and, shortly afterwards, tribes were no longer institutionally relevant. Thirteenth-century English court rolls reflect that even cousins were as likely to be in the presence of nonkin as with each other. The practices the church advocated (e.g., monogamy) are still the norm in Europe. Consanguineous marriages in contemporary Europe account for less than 1 percent of the total number of marriages, in contrast to Muslim and Middle Eastern countries where such marriages account for between 20 and 50 percent per country (Alan H. Bittles, 1994). Among the anthropologically defined 356 contemporary societies of Euro-Asia and Africa, there is a large and significant negative correlation between the spread of Christianity (for at least 500 years) and the absence of clans and lineages; the level of commercialization, class stratification, and state formation are insignificantly correlated (Andrey V. Korotayev, 2003).”
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the presence (or absence) of clans in societies is somehow connected to the mating patterns of societies. in fact, it seems to be that a whole range of kinship-based societal types is somehow connected to a whole range of mating patterns: the “closer” the mating patterns in a society, the more “clannish” it tends to be — the more distant the mating patterns, the less “clannish.”

so we see a spectrum of “clannish” societies ranging from the very individualistic western societies characterized by nuclear families and, crucially, very little inbreeding (cousin marriage, for instance) to very tribal arab or bedouin societies characterized by nested networks of extended families and clans and large tribal organizations and having very high levels of inbreeding (specifically a form of very close cousin marriage which increases the degree of inbreeding). falling somewhere in between these two extremes are groups like the chinese whose society is built mostly around the extended familiy but in some regions of china also clans — or the medieval scots (especially the highland scots) whose society for centuries was built around the clan (h*ck, they even coined the term!). these “in-betweener” groups are, or were, characterized by mid-levels of inbreeding (typically avoiding the very close cousin marriage form of the arabs).

furthermore, not only do the degrees of extended family-ness/clannish-ness/tribal-ness in societies seem to be connected to the degrees of inbreeding in those societies, the degrees of “clannism” also seem to be connected to the degree of inbreeding — the more inbreeding, the less civicness, the less democracy, the more corruption, and so on.

it’s not clear what exactly the mechanism(s) behind this inbreeding-leads-to-clannishness pattern is, but since mating patterns are involved, and mating is a very biological process, it seems likely (to me anyway) that the explanation is something biological — i.e. some sort or sorts of evolutionary process/es — like natural selection — resulting in different/different degrees of behavioral traits related to “clannism” in different populations with inbreeding acting as a sort of accelerant for those processes.

clans and clannism, then, are not things that peoples “fall back on” in the absence of a state as mark weiner suggests in The Rule of the Clan [kindle locations 106-108]:

“[I]n the absence of the state, or when states are weak, the individual becomes engulfed within the collective groups on which people must rely to advance their goals and vindicate their interests. Without the authority of the state, a host of discrete communal associations rush to fill the vacuum of power. And for most of human history, the primary such group has been the extended family, the clan.”

rather, people’s attachments to their extended families/clans/tribes — and, more importantly, their tendencies towards clannish behaviors — are likely innate behaviors. and those behaviors likely vary, on average, between populations since (long-term) mating patterns have varied — and, indeed, still vary — between populations.

such innate behaviors cannot be changed overnight — certainly not within a generation or even two (evolution does take some amount of time — but not, necessarily, extremely long amounts of time either) — and definitely not by simply changing a few laws here and there in the hopes of encouraging individualism. as avner greif grasped, although probably not fully because he’s likely missed the underlying biology of what he’s noticed, family structures need to be altered in order to effect changes to larger societal structures (again, all via tweaks to innate behavioral tendencies). and, again, that can’t be done overnight — as greif pointed out, the process in europe began in the early medieval period (with the church’s bans on cousin marriages) and didn’t really start to take hold until the late medieval period — i.e. a 500 year (or, conservatively, a ca. 25 generation) timeline.
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see also: Cousin Marriage Conundrum by steve sailer and Why Europe? by michael mitterauer (in particular chapter 3) and Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade by avner greif.

**see “mating patterns in europe series” in left-hand column below ↓ for further details.

(note: comments do not require an email. busy clan members.)

“the rule of the clan”

john derbyshire pointed out this new book to me (thanks, john!)…

The Rule of the Clan – What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom

…written by a fellow named mark weiner.

(clans are so IN nowadays! (~_^) )

here’s a little taste of what’s in the book — from the introduction [kindle locations 120-140]:

“What exactly is the rule of the clan? When I refer to the rule of the clan, I mean three related contemporary phenomena.

“First, and most prominently, I mean the legal structures and cultural values of societies organized primarily on the basis of kinship-societies in which extended family membership is vital for social and legal action and in which individuals have little choice but to maintain a strong clan identity. Today these societies include many in which the United States and its allies have a major strategic interest, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, but they have existed across history and throughout the world. Sometimes they are described as ‘tribal,’ though I tend to avoid the term because in English it carries a host of negative and racialist connotations. This strict form of the rule of the clan also includes the traditional Hindu caste system and Indian joint family, despite the manifest great differences between tribal societies and rapidly modernizing democratic India.

“Second, by the rule of the clan I mean the political arrangements of societies governed by what the Arab Human Development Report 2004 calls ‘clannism’….”

“clannism.” i like that.

These societies possess the outward trappings of a modern state but are founded on informal patronage networks, especially those of kinship, and traditional ideals of patriarchal family authority. In nations pervaded by clannism, government is coopted for purely factional purposes and the state, conceived on the model of the patriarchal family, treats citizens not as autonomous actors but rather as troublesome dependents to be managed.

“Clannism is the historical echo of tribalism, existing even in the face of economic modernization. It often characterizes rentier societies struggling under the continuing legacy of colonial subordination, as in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, where the nuclear family, with its revolutionary, individuating power, has yet to replace the extended lineage group as the principle framework for kinship or household organization. A form of clannism likewise pervades mainland China and other nations whose political development was influenced by Confucianism, with its ideal of a powerful state resting on a well-ordered family, and where personal connections are essential to economic exchange….”

uh huh. additionally, actual clans have also been making a comeback in china as of late.

“Third, and most broadly, by the rule of the clan I mean the antiliberal social and legal organizations that tend to grow in the absence of state authority or when the state is weak. These groups include petty criminal gangs, the Mafia, and international crime syndicates, which look a great deal like clans and in many respects act like them….”

and, of course, the mafia, and many other international crime syndicates (like balkan criminal gangs which have spread across europe during the past decade or so), ARE extended family-/clan-based. make no mistake — a lot of these groups are not just clan-like.

looks to be a very interesting book — and information packed! i look forward to reading it, and no doubt i’ll have more to say about it soon! (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. yemeni clansmen/tribesmen.)

clans in the news: syria

clans and tribes are reportedly making a comeback in syria — what a surprise! (did they ever really go away?)

here are some excerpts from two articles that appeared recently in al monitor.

the first article is a translation of an article that originally appeared in the lebanese paper, as-safir. the original title of the article was (translated to english): “Tribal ‘Solidarity’ and the Role That the Clans Play in the Syrian Crisis.” when the author refers to tribes, i believe that he is referring to groups such as the bedouin tribes in (iirc) northeastern/eastern syria as well as other arab tribes which have tribal connections in other countries (like iraq). he suggests that 1) tribalism is more prevalent in northern syria than in the south, and 2) the power of tribes is weaker in urban areas than in rural. ok, here we go (links added by me)…

“Tribalism and the Syrian Crisis”
“January 18 2013

“Prominent tribal figures have become omnipresent in Syrian opposition meetings, at a time when the regime is also hosting meeting after meeting for these same leaders. All of this is transpiring amid fears that societal unity will once again become fragmented, opening the door to tribal clashes in the worst possible scenario that could face Syria.

Tribal influence has returned to the forefront of the country’s political scene. Although their presence on the ground fluctuates between weak in some areas to effective in others, the impression is that Syrian society still longs for the old days of tribal friction and polarization, despite the fact that cohesion between some of them has played a positive role in avoiding disputes. As a result, there is a new drive to monitor the country’s tribal communities, their influence and relationship with the regime, be they for or against the current government.

“Syrian tribes

“The Syrian tribes are spread throughout all the regions of the country, from the extreme northeast in the plains of al-Jazira and the Euphrates river valley, all the way to the Badiya desert, Homs, Hama and the Damascus countryside, as well as the southern regions of Hauran and Jabal al-Druze. All these tribes are interconnected and have relationships with neighboring countries, especially Iraq and Jordan, with some tribes even claiming ties in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, many inhabitants of Mount Lebanon still retain a strong connection to their places of origin in southern Syria and maintain good relations with their relatives there, while others have Turkish ancestry, such as the Abazaid clan in Daraa….

“On another note, researchers and activists in Hauran see that southern culture is based more on family relations than on tribal allegiance, because tribes are composed of large numbers of people, whereas there are many families in the plains region that have tribal connections which cross borders but whose presence remains concentrated in areas specific to each one of them. This is accentuated by the region’s agrarian character, which greatly diminishes nomadic tendencies and expands the influence of the family’s elders, who solve internal problems, reconcile disputes between people or give aid to any distressed member of the expanded Haurani family….

“Tribalism, on the other hand, leads to destructive armed conflicts and never-ending feuds. The concept of tribal solidarity might be the only one that southern families took with them to the city, a concept that Hauran‘s inhabitants point to when describing the uprising in the whole region against the regime. Everyone took to the streets without hesitation, before the Syrian crisis even erupted, to demonstrate and demand the release of some detained children. This solidarity also succeeded in thwarting any attempts to incite strife between them and their neighbors in the Jabal al-Druze, who reciprocated and snuffed out the flames of any possible conflict between themselves and the Hauranis….”

so, the tribe/clan leaders of the south pressured their members not to enter into conflict with their usual rivals? so clannishness can sometimes be a power for cooperation. hmmmm….

The region’s [i.e. the north – h.chick] inhabitants might be more prone to tribal fanaticism than their counterparts in the south. Tribal customs still prevail, especially in the countryside, which has begun to urbanize, but which still abides by many tribal concepts. This is mainly due to wide-ranging marginalization seen throughout the area, while cities seem to be in a much better state. The influence of tribal leaders there [i.e. in the cities – h.chick] waned until is became nearly nonexistent, due to two main factors: first, the large number of different tribes, and second, the urbanization of younger generations….

“The regime or the opposition: Who will win the clans?

“It wasn’t until the crisis was in its fourth month that anyone in the regime or the opposition considered playing on tribal sensitivities to mobilize clans in their favor. This occurred after organizers held demonstrations on what came to be known as the ‘Friday of the clans’….”

جمعة العشائر << "friday of the clans" — that, apparently, was a protest against the assad regime in june 2011 organized by opposition forces via facebook. a bunch of people were killed, of course.

“…As a result, a concerted large-scale campaign was initiated to win over the clans and provoke them into bearing arms against the regime, which, in turn, strove to reinvigorate tribalism and set about organizing meetings with tribal elders, mobilizing them through the media in an attempt to portray the clans as pro regime. In parallel, a tribal presence was now mandatory at all opposition meetings….

The foremost danger lies in the formation of armed militias by clans to fight against other clans based on their support for or opposition to the regime, which would surely lead the country into civil war….

“An activist in Hasakah, viewed as the perfect example of a tribal society, replied that the regime had intentionally let tribal elders rule those areas since the 1970s in return for absolute allegiance. Some of those elders even became members of the People’s Council representing their districts as a reward for that allegiance….

“But this model seemed to lose its effectiveness this time around in most areas. For despite the presence of many clans completely loyal to the regime, especially in rural Aleppo, Riqa and Hasakah, their influence remains limited when compared to the larger clans whose elders have completely lost any authority over the young clansmen. They have also lost their influence over the clans that have abandoned tribalism in favor of agrarianism, therefore succeeding in sparing themselves from any tribal conflict. The end result is a society that seems bent on trying to avoid any disintegration of its cohesiveness, regardless of political, tribal or sectarian considerations. As such, it is a true rarity in the midst of this conflict, and represents the only common goal over which both supporters and opponents of the regime agree: preventing the revival of tribalism.”

well, good luck with that. =/
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and the second article:

“Hezbollah Defends Shiite Villages In Syria War”
“February 20, 2013

“Several days ago, Hezbollah fighters guarding Shiite Lebanese citizens living in and around 14 Lebanese villages located in Syrian territory clashed with armed opposition groups affiliated with radical Sunni Islamist factions. The incident, the first of its kind, portends a possible transition of Syria’s sectarian strife to Lebanon….

“Since the start of the turmoil in Syria — which was accompanied by sectarian categorization between the Sunni Muslims, most of them against the Syrian regime, and the Alawite and Shiite Muslims who support it — the Sykes-Picot Agreement has had negative effects on the demographic balance in that region. Security incidents have taken place more than once during recent months among these Shiite villages, which are located in the middle of the smuggling line in the countryside between the Lebanese town of Arsal, Al-Qa’, Lake Homs, Al-Qusayr and Talkalakh.

Shia citizens from the adjacent Lebanese region of Hermel quickly became involved in these tensions. They belong to large clans, which have a social system that values ​the ‘support of relatives.’ In the current situation, they are Lebanese Shiite villagers living on Syrian territory, who complain that they are being subjected to attempts of forceful displacement by their Sunni Syrian neighbors.

“Last summer, military skirmishes took place between the Sunni town of Al-Qusayr, which is located behind the Syrian border and considered a stronghold of the armed opposition in its countryside, which is also the northern part of the countryside of the city of Homs — and between Lebanese residents in the Hermel region.

“Private sources have revealed to Al-Monitor that during one of these skirmishes, Jabhat al-Nusra militants attacked a Hezbollah training camp in the Hermel region from the Al-Qusayr countryside, killing and wounding 10 Hezbollah members. This was followed by a retaliatory operation by Hezbollah, which resulted in the killing of many members of the Syrian opposition.

“In general, Hezbollah is cautious about stepping into the sectarian strife raging in Syria. However, the issue of providing protection for the 14 Shiite villages located inside Syrian territory within the Al-Qusayr countryside arose as a challenge for the party before its social base in the Hermel region. It seems that the party has made the decision to protect these villages and prevent the people’s displacement based on the following considerations:

First, there are familial links between the residents of the Hermel region and those of the 14 Lebanese Shiite villages located inside Syrian territory. It should be noted that Hermel, in Lebanon’s Bekaa region, is considered as a popular reservoir for Hezbollah and its resistance apparatus. Accordingly, the party cannot turn its back to their appeal for help to save their relatives inside Syria from killing and displacement. Moreover, the Hamadah clan, one of the major clans in Hermel, owns vast areas of Lebanese territories that were cut off in the Sykes-Picot Agreement in the interest of Syria, and they still have the documents proving their ownership of these lands….”

yeah, i bet they do. old (clannish) grudges die hard.

it’s really irritating (if i bother to think about it, which i mostly don’t anymore) that the msm fails to mention ANYthing about clans/tribes in the middle east. EVER. or almost never anyway. rarely. instead it’s all just “arab springs” and “freedom fighters” in syria or bahrain or wherever. what a bunch of nonsense! i wonder if they (teh msm journalists) are really that clueless, or what?

previously: clans in the news: aleppo and clans in the news: the lebanon and syria and syrian tribes and more on syrian marriage and family types

(note: comments do not require an email. cool syrian music.)