random notes: 09/06/13

something that sobl1 asked me yesterday on twitter about the kurds led me to this on wikipedia:

“Barth finds in his study of southern Kurdistan that in tribal villages 57% of all marriages were cousin marriages (48% bint ‘amm marriages) while in a nontribal village made up of recent immigrant families only 17% were cousin marriages (13% bint ‘amm).”

the barth reference is: Barth F. (1954) Father’s brother’s daughter marriage in Kurdistan. South Western Journal of Anthropology 10, 164-171.

i haven’t seen it (yet), because it’s not online — only some tantilizing previews here and here — and, no, i still haven’t gone to the library.

what piques my interest here is the difference in cousin marriage rates between the traditional kurdish tribal villages (57%) and nontribal villages “made up of recent immigrant families (17%).

while it seems like it should be obvious that immigration would reduce cousin marriage rates, this is the first actual example i’ve (almost) seen of that. in other cases of immigration that i’ve seen — europe in general in the late-1800s (see second half of this post), germans in gdańsk in the 1500-1700s (see here), and, for example, not to be forgotten, pakistanis and their chain-migration patterns in places like the u.k. today — the cousin marriage rates have actually gone UP in connection with immigration. here — finally, then — is an example of cousin marriage decreasing with immigration — by a LOT, apparently.

so it seems like the effect of emigration on cousin marriage rates is something that can vary depending on circumstances, although what those circumstances are, is not clear to me.

Further Research is Required.TM (^_^)

a little bit on iceland (and the faroe islands) from The Faroe Islands: Interpretations of History [pg. 14]:

“The Church’s power [in the faroe islands] was also moral, and the workings of ecclesiastical law may have contributed to the relative impoverishment of freeholders. We do not know what ecclesiastical law was in the Faroes before the Reformation; only that in 1584 the Løgting complied with Frederick II’s request that a compilation of late thirteenth-century Icelandic law called the Stóridómur continue to be valid in the Faroes. Among other things, the Stóridómur set the bounds within which kinsmen were forbidden to marry; since marriage between cousins was held to be incestuous, lands divided by inheritance could not easily be recombined. After the Reformation, the Stóridómur was supplemented by secular laws prescribing harsh punishments for bearing or fathering children out of wedlock (death, if the parents were cousins) and allowing couples to marry only if they had a certain amount of land. Similar restrictions on marriage were in effect earlier as well. It could hardly be otherwise in so ecologically precarious a land, where overpopulation was always a threat. Thus the Seyðabræv had ‘established certain requirements for a man if he was to be able to marry and set up his own house’: none could do so without being able to support at least three cows. In effect, the poor were forbidden to marry.”

so it sounds as though by at least the 1580s — and very likely the late 1200s — cousin marriage was banned in iceland in this stóridómur (and, then, from at least the 1580s onwards on the faroe islands). that cousin marriage was banned in iceland starting in the late 1200s — if that’s what happened (i’m still not sure yet) — would fit my prediction that cousin marriage was probably banned there when the norwegian crown took over iceland in 1262. my bet is that the ban was introduced to the island at that point in time from the continent.

i haven’t found out much about this stóridómur — here is the icelandic wikipedia page google translated. sounds like it wasn’t compiled until the 1560s, but, perhaps, based upon earlier law tracts? dunno. it does mean something like “big judgement” or something like that.

and how about the faroe islands there?! those were some eugenical practices (if they enforced them, which it actually sounds like they did, if you read through the book above)! the faroese ought to be geniuses! (~_^)


conclusion: we need more physicists studying/being interested in human biodiversity/sociobiology/anthropolgy!:

(probable) reason: they’re more logical/have higher iqs.

examples: greg cochran, steve hsu, william shockley, and — i didn’t know — napoleon chagnon (h/t g-nice!):

“Darkness in Anthropology: A Conversation with Napoleon Chagnon”

“Iannone: How did your interest in anthropology begin? What made you want to be an anthropologist?

“Chagnon: My original major as an undergraduate in a local two-year college — Michigan College of Mining and Technology — was physics. At that time I had never heard of anthropology. I transferred to the University of Michigan after my first year and discovered that ‘physics’ was in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and I would have to take courses in each of these fields. The only thing I could fit into my schedule for the social science requirement was a course in a field called anthropology.”


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so why DID the japanese quit marrying their cousins?

one of the reasons seems to have been that the policy was, indeed, part of the modernization/westernization move in late-nineteenth century japan (sort-of the opposite of what happened in the maghreb/mashriq/parts of south asia when they went through an arabization process — oops! — bad luck).

from “Japan’s Outcaste Abolition: The struggle for national inclusion and the making of the modern state” [pgs. 82-83] (the “new commoners” referred to here are the burakumin whose social status changed with the “edict abolishing ignoble classes” — they were literally new commoners after moving up in the world [theoretically anyway]. “eta” also=burakumin. links added by me.):

“[O]ne of the main government aims of the time was to improve the national stock so as to maximize economic productivity and military power, as expressed in the slogan ‘rich country, strong military’. Although eugenics as a scientific discipline was not introduced into Japan until the end of the Meiji period, the Meiji government had from its inception followed policies to foster stronger and healthier Japanese bodies through its encouragement of milk-drinking and meat-eating, as well as through its public hygiene and health policies. If there was a hereditary and inferior Eta nature that was biologically transmitted, then it would be in the national interest to minimize relationships between New Commoners and others.

“The leaders of the semi-official Greater Japan Private Hygiene Association, whose purpose was to improve the nation’s human resources and to heighten people’s value as labour and military power, made explicit this connection between state interests and individual health. At this body’s inaugural assembly in 1883, its president and the future head of the Japanese Red Cross, Sano Tsunetami (1822-1902), declared that, ‘the health of each of us is related to whether our country shall be strong or weak, rich or poor’. Another executive, the medical doctor Hasegawa Yasushi (1842-1912), pronounced that the association’s aim was to ‘make the nation healthy, foster the strength that is the font of capital, […] and thereby increase militarisation’.

“Intellectuals debated precisely how the state might realize the goal of improving its human resources. Based on notions of a racial hierarchy topped by Westerners, holders of one extreme view proposed that Japanese people should interbreed with Western people. ‘The physiques and minds of Japanese are inferior to Westerners’, one writer argued, going on to propose that ‘we should import [Western] women…”

heh! (~_^)

“…and promote meat-eating to further improve our race’. While the latter idea about eating more meat proved popular, the former proved contentious. Hozumi Yatsuka attacked plans for racial interbreeding on the grounds it would adversely affect ancestor worship, a practice that in his opinion underpinned the Japanese nation.

“In somewhat more scientific fashion, the pre-eminent conservative intellectual Kato Hiroyuki pointed out in 1887 that if Westerners were racially superior and their genes dominant, then rather than improving the Japanese race, intermarriage between Western women and Japanese men would lead logically and unacceptably to the eventual replacement and disappearance of Japanese. Partly as a result of such criticisms, Japanese scholars ‘tended to emphasise environmental elements over genetics’, and devised practical plans to improve the population by reforming and improving people’s lifestyles.

People who looked at ways to reform popular lifestyles from the perspectives of national health and state power turned their attention to improving sanitation and diet and also drew attention to the problem of ‘inbreeding’ or marriages between close blood relatives. They considered inbreeding practices to be widespread, and thus to pose a serious problem, since they gave rise to disease and deformity, and ultimately would bring about ‘racial decline’. In light of these unwanted effects, intellectuals and officials called on people to desist from such unions.

“There had been occasional attacks on inbreeding during the early Meiji years. In 1875, Minoura Katsundo (1854-1929), a student of Fukuzawa Yukichi, had bemoaned the fact that alliances between close blood relatives were causing aristocratic degeneracy. Such claims were countered, however, by arguments that inbreeding was necessary to maintain the purity of aristocratic bloodlines. But growing out of a more general concern with ‘racial improvement’ among the socio-political elite, the concern with inbreeding that emerged in the latter part of the Meiji period was much broader in its focus, and it was given legal grounding by the 1898 Civil Code, which prohibited marriages between close relatives.

my questions are: first, what does “close relatives” mean? presumably first cousins anyway. then, how well was this civil code enforced? or was it changed at some point? or did the japanese not have to register their marriages with the state? or were there a lot of exemptions or something? because if there was a law banning cousin marriage in japan, why then were 22.4% of marriages in japan in the 1910s-1920s between cousins? (i actually saw a figure of 50% in something i was reading yesterday — need to find it again.) lots of looking the other way by officials? bribery? what was going on?

more from the book:

“A noteworthy aspect of the mid-to-late-Meiji anti-inbreeding campaign was that writers alleged that practice to be prevalent among New Commoners. Their claims may have had the effect of discouraging some people from inbreeding practices, as presumably the threat of becoming alike to New Commoners constituted a powerful disincentive. Such claims may have had some basis in the fact that discrimination limited the marriage pool of New Commoners and thus promoted community endogamy. But to target New Commoners as particular practitioners of this ‘offence’ was to ignore the fact that marriage relations between close relatives were not all uncommon among the population generally, and were prevalent especially among the upper reaches of society.”

previously: japan – reversal of fortune? and historic mating patterns in japan

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eugenics in the news

from the u.k.’s telegraph (links added by me):

“Euroscience Open Forum 2012: DNA gene testing ‘will screen out lovers'”
13 Jul 2012

“Couples will soon be able to choose their life partner solely based on the compatibility of their genes instead of through love, a scientific conference has heard.

“Due to the falling cost of DNA testing Britain is on the cusp of a new era of eugenics, according to a leading British scientist.

“Prof Armand Leroi, of Imperial College London, said that within five to ten years it will be common for young people to pay to access their entire genetic code.

“He told the Euroscience Open Forum 2012, in Dublin, that a desire to have a healthy baby will lead more to request access to the view the genes of any prospective partner.

“Armed with this information, the couple could then use IVF to screen babies with incurable diseases.

“While it was unlikely people will have the ‘luxury’ of using the technology to design babies, by their intellect or eye colour, they would instead focus on stopping genetic diseases.

“Addressing a session titled ‘I human: are new scientific discoveries challenging our identity as a species’, he said the cost of genetic sequencing was falling so quickly that ‘it is going to become very, very accessible, very, very soon’….

“He said eugenics were already available, with tens of thousands of unborn babies with Down’s syndrome and other illnesses being aborted every year.

“He told the conference on Thursday: ‘These processes are very well established in most European countries.

“‘Many of the ethical problems that people raise when they speak of neoeugenics are nought once you offer gene selection or mate selection as a eugenic tool.'”

meanwhile, in tonga:

“Tonga’s Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala marries cousin”
12 July 2012

“The heir to the throne of Tonga in the South Pacific has married his second cousin in the capital Nuku’alofa.

“Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala and his bride, Sinaitakala Fakafanua, both in their 20s, waved to cheering crowds as they left church after the wedding…..

“Marriage between cousins is seen as a way of keeping the royal bloodline strong in Tonga….”

felicitations to the happy couple! (^_^) (seriously!)

previously: ivy league selective breeding

(note: comments do not require an email. tonga – the friendly islands?)

pre-christian germanic eugenics

from Children and Material Culture [pg. 184]:

“Citing documentary evidence, Molleson notes that Germanic tribes in continental Europe subjected newborn infants to rigorous ‘fitness’ tests by immersion in running water. If the infant survived it was kept, if not the body was simply left in the river. Because of the lack of infant burials on British Anglo-Saxon sites, Molleson suggests that Germanic tribes may have brought this custom with them to England.”

that’s pretty harsh. =/ wonder whose job it was to take the baby to the river?

(note: comments do not require an email. question about eugenics.)