random notes: 11/02/12

some eskimo groups engaged in blood feuds. ruh-roh. from Eskimos and Explorers about the mackenzie eskimos (mackenzie inuit) [pg. 195]:

“Murders committed in anger were relatively common, and blood revenge led to further retalitory murders and family feuds. In one instance a woman’s rejected suitor killed her as she slept. In another a man who refused to sell his belt was stabbed in the back and killed by a person who hoped to buy the belt.

“A feud that erupted about 1860, soon after intensive historic contact, was recorded by Nuligak, a Mackenzie Eskimo. One man hoped to marry the daughter of another, but the father of the girl refused to permit the match. The rejected suitor took a valuable steel-bladed knife from one of the father’s younger sons, and the father was furious. At the first opportunity he killed not only the thief but one of his companions. As the feud spread, a cousin of the original murderer allied himself with the thief’s relatives, and more people were killed. Finally the father of the girl and the betraying cousin killed each other, but the feud continued on. As Nuligak wrote, ‘In the olden days the Inuit slew those who killed their kinsmen. One vengeance followed another like links in a chain.’

“Terrible feuds have been reported among most Eskimos, and they often spanned a number of generations….”

dunno about the mackenzie inuit, but the yupik eskimos (are mackenzie eskimos yupik eskimos? i didn’t figure that out…) have one of the highest incidence rates of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) — and carriers of CAH alleles can show “symptoms of androgen excess” — like being more aggressive, perhaps? dunno. melykin pointed out that there are high rates of violent crime in areas of canada populated by eskimos.
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from ed west in the telegraph u.k.:

“The EU was dreamed up in French and German. That’s why the British have never fitted in”

“The European project developed in the region between Paris, Brussels and the Rhineland, the heartland of the old Frankish Empire….”

isn’t THAT curious?! the modern european feudal project (for what else is the e.u. apart from feudal with a bunch of local [i.e. national] politicians playing vassals to the eurocrats?) had its origins pretty much right where medieval feudalism got going — austrasia. what is it about those people in that region?
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more on extended family human traffickers (can’t we just call them slavers?) from the balkans:

“Police bust Balkan child trafficking ring in Nancy”

“French police have arrested seven people for running an international child trafficking ring in Nancy, north east France.

“The ring is thought to have bought children from Macedonia or Kosovo for €1000 to €1500 and then sold them on to Belgium and Germany for €10,000.

Seven members of a family originally from the Balkans were arrested on Tuesday after a month of police investigation.

“According to local paper Est Républicain, several other members of the family had also been arrested in Germany in relation to the ring.

“Police took in two girls, both about 12-years-old, for questioning. They say they do not believe the girls were subjected to sexual abuse or used as slaves, but traded in line with ‘local customs’ in the traffickers’ home countries.”

in line with WHAT “local customs”?!
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corruption in china — it’s a family affair. from the nyt:

“Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader”

“[N]ow 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

“The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister.

“Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion….

“Unlike most new businesses in China, the family’s ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies, including China Mobile, one of the country’s biggest phone operators, the documents show. At other times, the ventures won support from some of Asia’s richest tycoons. The Times found that Mr. Wen’s relatives accumulated shares in banks, jewelers, tourist resorts, telecommunications companies and infrastructure projects, sometimes by using offshore entities.

“The holdings include a villa development project in Beijing; a tire factory in northern China; a company that helped build some of Beijing’s Olympic stadiums, including the well-known ‘Bird’s Nest’; and Ping An Insurance, one of the world’s biggest financial services companies.

“As prime minister in an economy that remains heavily state-driven, Mr. Wen, who is best known for his simple ways and common touch, more importantly has broad authority over the major industries where his relatives have made their fortunes. Chinese companies cannot list their shares on a stock exchange without approval from agencies overseen by Mr. Wen, for example. He also has the power to influence investments in strategic sectors like energy and telecommunications.

“Because the Chinese government rarely makes its deliberations public, it is not known what role — if any — Mr. Wen, who is 70, has played in most policy or regulatory decisions. But in some cases, his relatives have sought to profit from opportunities made possible by those decisions.

“The prime minister’s younger brother, for example, has a company that was awarded more than $30 million in government contracts and subsidies to handle wastewater treatment and medical waste disposal for some of China’s biggest cities, according to estimates based on government records. The contracts were announced after Mr. Wen ordered tougher regulations on medical waste disposal in 2003 after the SARS outbreak.

“In 2004, after the State Council, a government body Mr. Wen presides over, exempted Ping An Insurance and other companies from rules that limited their scope, Ping An went on to raise $1.8 billion in an initial public offering of stock. Partnerships controlled by Mr. Wen’s relatives — along with their friends and colleagues — made a fortune by investing in the company before the public offering….”

tptb in china NOT amused by nyt story.

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this one’s for g.w.

(^_^)

from Ecological Sensitivity and Resistance of Cultures in Asia (southeast asia in particular) published in 1978(!):

“Ecological influences on culture have been demonstrated by several investigators. Many such studies have been done in Asia where two ecological niches extend over vast areas. One of these is the highland or mountainous territory 500 meters above sea level; the other consists of plains and plateaus under 500 meters….

“…The HRAF files were used to compare cultures in the highlands with those in the lowlands. The files indicate that certain items may be ecology sensitive (that is, more apt to change with ecologic shift). These include agricultural methods, sociopolitical organization and preferred marriage forms….

“Sociopolitical Organization. … Lowland societies had larger communities, larger states, more nonhereditary local head-men, complex social distinctions, and exogamy. More lowland [sic – should be upland] groups had small communities, small states, hereditary headmen, no exogamy, and less complex class distinctions.

“Family, Marriage and Kinship. … Eskimo/Hawaiian cousin terms corresponded to the quadrilateral/nonlateral cousin marriages found in lowland cultures. Iroquois/Omaha/Crow cousin terms were found in association with matrilineal/patrilineal cousin marriages in the highlands….”

eskimo kinship terms are the ones that we use in the anglo/western world, and the eskimo kinship system is a very generalized one — eg. we don’t distinguish between maternal or paternal cousins, they’re all just “cousins.” so lowland southeast asians have similar kinship terms to us — or they use the hawaiian system which is even more generalized — all your brothers and male cousins are just “brother” and all your sisters and female cousins are just “sister.”

the iroquois, omaha, and crow systems used by the uplanders are all more complex, each distinguishing cousins in different ways — but none of them are as complex as the sudanese system which is the one used in the arab world — and in china. and it used to be used by the anglo-saxons before the Big Change in kinship terms in medieval europe.

“…Discussion

“As observed by previous students of southeast Asia, the most parsimonious explanation for these sociopolitical and marriage findings is the production of surplus food in the lowlands. Intensive agriculture favors both increased population density and increased total population. Communities become larger, nation states are formed, and kingship comes into existence. The cetripetal nature of kingship government probably accounts for nonhereditary local headmen replacing hereditary headmen. Surplus rice allows a money economy, towns, a priestly class, social stratification, teachers, and writing.

“Swidden agriculturists in the highlands, on the other hand, maintain simple social and political organization. Small groups migrate more easily, keeping themselves politically and socially intact during and after the move. Each family, even that of the village chief, must raise its own food. Class stratification is simple and large towns are nonexistent. There are part-time shamans, but no priestly class. Even though writing systems (such as Chinese ideography) are near at hand and readily usable, absence of surplus food and large communities obstruct the development of literacy. Such small autonomous communities, numbering between 50 and 400 persons, do not form nation states.

These data again demonstrate the political role of preferred marriage forms. Exogamy and lack of cousin marriage within large lowland nation-states aid in uniting disparate clans and villages. By contrast, the absence of exogamy and the presence of preferred cousin marriage intensify relationships within the small upland social units. Among both societies, the preferred marriage types comprise a social strategy that reinforces the political organization of the group.

yup!

i wonder if these se asian “swidden agriculturalists” are/were also pastoralists (since cousin marriage and pastoralism seem to go together — see the arab world), or if just living in a marginal — and remote — upland environment is enough to push a group towards inbreeding, irregardless of whether one’s group is pastoralist or agriculturalist?

(note: comments do not require an email. dreamed i was an eskimo….)