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Change in kinship and marriage systems and its reflection in languages and genes Patrick McConvell AIATSIS/ANU.

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Presentation on theme: "Change in kinship and marriage systems and its reflection in languages and genes Patrick McConvell AIATSIS/ANU."— Presentation transcript:

1 Change in kinship and marriage systems and its reflection in languages and genes Patrick McConvell AIATSIS/ANU

2 AUSTKIN PROJECT Australian Research Council Harold Koch, Ian Keen(ANU) Laurent Dousset (CREDO/CNRS) et al incl. McConvell (ANU)


4 DYNAMICS OF HUNTER-GATHERER LANGUAGE CHANGE PROJECT NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, USA : Claire Bowern (Yale); Jane Hill (Arizona); Pattie Epps (Texas Austin); Keith Hunley (New Mexico) et al. incl. McConvell (ANU) [website not yet established] How the languages of hunter-gatherer groups have changed and spread Language is a basic element in human social identity and change and spread of languages is a key aspect of human and social dynamics. The spread of farming and languages associated with it has claimed a lot of recent attention but very little corresponding work on the languages of hunter-gatherers. What drives change and spread among hunter-gatherers? Are such processes are fundamentally the same or different from what occurred after the farming revolution – a relatively recent event in the history of humans. Comparison of hunter-gatherers in North and South America and Australia The project is interdisciplinary in using the results of biological anthropology and genetics in conjunction with those of linguistics, to clarify what the relative contributions of migration and language shift were to language spreads. Among the linguistic data to be collected are vocabulary in the fields of plants and animals, and kinship and social organization. These provide evidence of changes in human ecology and social patterns respectively and relate to the disciplines of archeology and socio- cultural anthropology, also represented in the project team, as well as to biological anthropology since both nutrition and lifestyle, and marriage patterns can be reflected in genetic trajectories.



7 Resurgence of interest in kinship and kinship change The last decade has seen a resurgence of interest in long-term patterns of change in kinship systems, with reworking of structuralist ideas of transformations which do not always lead to actual historical hypotheses (Godelier, Trautmann and Tjon Sie Fat eds.1998). There are also actual hypotheses about prehistorical change emerging (or reemerging), both regional sequences and general evolutionary patterns and constraints (eg Dziebel 2007; James et al eds 2008). Linguistic evidence of kinship change A prominent theme in some of this work is the importance of linguistic evidence (emphasised in many papers by the late Per Hage and colleagues). Reconstruction of kinship terminologies (systems) at various proto-language levels enables us to view prehistoric systems and the changes they have undergone.

8 KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE Relationships between marriage types and kinship systems have been proposed throughout the history of anthropology from Morgan on. These have often been framed in terms of correlations between marriage patterns or rules and kinship systems synchronically. LINKED CHANGE IN KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE There are also studies which attempt to show how diachronic developments in marriage might have led to change in kinship systems. Dole (1969) for instance argues that a change to generational ( Hawaiian ) terminology from Dravidian/Iroquois cross-cousin terminology among the Kuikuru of Brazil represents an adaptation to language group endogamy due to a long-distance migration.

9 Dravidian endogamous circulation Dravidian systems would generally tend to keep marriage alliances in relatively tight closed loops.

10 The other kinds of marriage system which are known to develop from Dravidian bilateral cross-cousin marriage have terminological structures distinctively different from Dravidian. Some also tend to disperse marriage alliances more widely in various ways. These include 1.Asymmetric cross-cousin marriage eg matrilateral, where a man marries a (classificatory) MBD, not an FZD 2.Skewing systems eg Omaha where an MBD is classified as a mother and therefore usually unmarriageable 3.Second cousin (Aranda) systems in Australia 4.(possibly) systems involving marriage classes like sections and subsections In Australia, the development of Omaha skewing can be shown by linguistic evidence to be involved in the transition to matriliateral marriage. Keen also hypothesises that matrilateral systems are correlated with high polygyny, and old men having young wives. SYSTEMS THAT DISPERSE ALLIANCES

11 LOSS OF CROSS-PARALLEL DISTINCTIONS As well as the loss of symmetry in marriage direction, a common feature in both Australia and North America is the loss of an original system which distinguishes between cross-cousins and parallel cousins (the latter equated with siblings) in favour of one which suppresses or downgrades this distinction. This seems to correlate with expansion of language groups into tougher environments on both continents. Lower levels of polygyny might be expected in this situation. The loss of symmetry seems to correlate with what I have called downstream spread and loss of cross-parallel distinctions with upstream spread. Details of why these correlations are present still need to be worked out. Cross-parallel distinctions in grandparent terminology are also lost under apparently similar circumstances yielding grandfather/grandmother systems from systems which distinguished FF and MF and FM from MM, eg in the Chiracahua variety of Apachean and inland Northern Athapaskan; and in the Luritja system of the Australian Western Desert.

12 The individual migration of spouses to post-marital residence localities is different from the migration of whole groups. It may be better to use movement of spouses for the former. Migration of groups can happen with or without significant language shift. Groups may just live side by side without language shift or one group may displace another physically without language shift. Language shift if it occurs can be from or to the migrating language. It may occur in conjunction with high rates of intermarriage or not. A likely hypothesis is that this conjunction is common. If intermarriage and language shift cooccur, language shift will accompany high gene flow and this may be sex- asymmetric. MIGRATION AND LANGUAGE SHIFT

13 Language spread can occur through large-scale migrations or through language shift. In the simplest migration scenario, marital exchange occurs between local groups subsequent to the migration. The exchange will produce a correlation between the genetic and geographic distances between groups …. The migration scenario can be tested by collecting genetic data from the different groups and measuring the correlation between genetic and geographic distances. The hypothesis of language shift may be tested by collecting genetic data from many groups in a region that speak both similar and different languages. Groups that experienced language shift will be genetically closer to groups with which they share a more recently common biological ancestry than to groups with which they share a language. The hypothesis has previously been formally tested in South America using multidimensional scaling (Cabana et al. 2006). The predictions and tests of the migration and shift processes are fairly clear cut if groups have persisted in the same region for considerable periods, if they have not moved much within the region, if they are evenly distributed across the landscape, and if genetic exchange is limited to geographic neighbors. These conditions are never met for long in humans, but the tests can be adjusted to take into account aspects on population history estimated from independent sources (e.g., archaeological data) and by taking into account geographic features such as waterways. GENETIC PREDICTIONS ABOUT MIGRATION AND LANGUAGE SHIFT

14 DOWNSTREAM Greater carrying capacity UPSTREAM Lesser carrying capacity Initial upstream spread 100% migration

15 DOWNSTREAM Greater carrying capacity UPSTREAM Lesser carrying capacity Range expansion Migration Language shift CORRIDOR

16 DOWNSTREAM Greater carrying capacity UPSTREAM Lesser carrying capacity High mobility Dense networks Language focussing Low contact influence CORRIDOR

17 DOWNSTREAM Greater carrying capacity UPSTREAM Lesser carrying capacity Downstream spread Migration Language shift CORRIDOR

18 DOWNSTREAM Greater carrying capacity UPSTREAM Lesser carrying capacity Downstream spread Migration Language shift CORRIDOR RAIDS INTERMARRIAGE RITUAL TIES SUBSTRATUM

19 Genetics and marriage Patrilocality and dispersal of mtDNA There have been a number of studies of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA (female and male-linked respectively) which have linked wide distributions to preferred post-marital residence patterns and resultant migration of spouses. A common pattern is the wide dispersal of mtDNA, linked to patrilocal residence, and perhaps to certain marriage patterns. In other cases, the results reflect known historical events. For example, colonizations consisting primarily of men have resulted in the introgression of European Y-chromosomes but not mitochondria into native populations … patrilocal groups show more geographic structure in their Y-chromosomes, while matrilocal groups have more geographically structured mitochondria. (Wilkins & Marlow 2006:290) the ethnographic dataindicate that the transition to agriculture is associated with an increase in patrilocality.We propose a model in which male and female migration are similar over most of human history, and female-biased migration is a recent phenomenon. (Wilkins & Marlow 2006:291)

20 CLAIMS DISPUTED This follows on claims by Marlow (2004) that hunter-gatherers tend not to have bilateral descent as well as no strong bias in post marital residence in contrast to agriculturalists. These hypotheses are doubtful. Wilkins & Marlow assume that there has been a broad change towards more patrilocality over the course of (pre-) history due to the change to agriculture. However when we look at hunter-gatherer groups we can see not only that there is variation in these patterns between them but also that they go through processes of change which affect marriage dispersal patterns and therefore distibution of genetic markers.

21 The connections [of kinship systems] with genetic variation are also worth pursuing, particularly because different kinship systems may have different consequences for patrilineally and matrilineally transmitted genes … …the interaction between kinship as a social institution and population processes like migration and diffusion may be a particularly rewarding topic for future investigation. For example, prehistorians commonly argue that demic expansions are driven by innovations in subsistence, especially domestication. But which groups spread and both when and how they did is sometimes a function not just of material technology but of social structure. Instead of kinship systems being passively carried along by population expansions and diffusion like neutral genetic poymorphisms,they may play an active role in these processes,which may in turn feed back to influence kinship. This article has argued that demic expansions have been associatedwith the spread of particular social systems; future research may demonstrate that these social systems haveplayed some role in causing these expansions. If so, then cultural anthropologys long-standing interest in kinship systems and their structural consequences may contributeto explaining some of the major events in prehistory. DOUG JONES (2003) Kinship and Deep History: Exploring Connections between Culture Areas, Genes, and Languages AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 105(3):501–514.

22 Jones contd. For Na Dene speakers in North America, …there is substantial agreement on linguistic relationships and ancestral kinship systems, … For New Guinea and Australia, the role of demic expansions and genetic and cultural diffusion in the origin of population clusters, language families, and culture areasis less certain, although a provisional case can be made for parallel transmission. Australia is particularly interesting: Although not widely known, there is quite suggestive genetic,linguistic, and archeological evidence for a fairly recent (from about six k.y.a.) demic expansion. This obviously may bear on the origin of the continents distinctive social organization. [cites McConvell & Evans etc. on Pama-Nyungan expansion hypothesis]

23 Athapaskan & Numic: Cross-parallel lost in outer areas, then lineal (Crow) in origin area Algonquian: Cross-parallel lost in outer areas, then lineal (Omaha) in further southern area KINSHIP IN NORTH AMERICA

24 Suggests that genetics supports a migration scenario for Numic expansion in the main but Cabana et al 2008 advocate a more rigorous method which may affect that finding

25 Proto-Numic Kariera

26 Gene flow across linguistic boundaries in Native North American populations Keith Hunley and Jeffrey C. Long PNAS February 1, 2005 vol. 102 no. 5

27 …a history of pervasive genetic exchange across linguistic boundaries. The distribution of mtDNA haplogroups in the Apache and Navajo presents the clearest example. As shown in Fig. 4, the distribution of the canonical Native American mtDNA haplogroups differs markedly between the far North and the Southwest. Notably,mtDNA sequences belonging to haplogroup B are not observed in the northern Na-Dene-attributed populations, and members of haplogroup C occur rarely (Fig. 4). By contrast, mtDNA sequences in Southwestern non-Athabascan speakers are characterized by the predominance of members of haplogroups B and C and the absence of members of haplogroup A. The haplogroup configuration for non-Athabascan speakers in the Southwest is exemplified in the present study by the Pima mtDNA sequences (Fig. 4) …The Navajo and Apache possess many haplogroup A sequences typical of Northwestern populations with languages attributed to the Na Dene language family. However, DNA sequences belonging to haplogroups B and C are also common in the Navajo and Apache, and these are most likely due to immigrants from the local non-Athabascan speaking populations. …the pattern of genetic exchange is not reciprocal.A-group haplotypes would have appeared in the Pima sample if they had absorbed a substantial number of Athabascan- speaking migrants. The pattern of asymmetrical genetic exchanges is allthe more interesting given current mate exchange practices.Today, marriage practice in both the Western Apache and Navajo is strongly matrilineal. On this basis, we would not expect to see the inclusion of female lineages introduced from the surrounding non-Athabascan-speaking populations. However,the practice of matrilineality in these populations is likely to have begun after the Navajos and Apaches arrived in the Southwest(31). This practice makes it likely that the haplogroup B and CmtDNA sequences carried in the Navajo and Apache today wereintroduced early in their experience in the Southwest, and before the current cultural practices were initiated. ATHAPASKAN (Hunley & Long contd)

28 THIS IS PUZZLING… matrilineal refers to a type of descent not a type of marriage presumably this refers to a requirement that Apacheans need to have a mother from the same group to be a member of a matriclan, in effect prohibiting men marrying outside the group; not everyone is convinced that Apachean matrilineality is a product of late contact with Pueblos; Dyen & Aberle argue it is old in Athapaskan matrilocality has been seen to be a response unifying a group after migration (Divale 1974) BUT IT IS AN INTERESTING TYPE OF MODEL it proposes a past cultural change in marriage which affects the pattern of gene flow between groups the present-day gene distribution mainly reflects a previous period when gene flow was higher, and putatively, a different marriage regime existed incidentally - this is not in the article - parallel types of argument can be drawn from historical linguistics - kinship terminologies that reflect old states of affairs that help us understand change in social practices generally however geneticists do not engage with this type of anthropological linguistics

29 Human biological data provide unambiguous evidence for this hypothesis that Apachean ancestors came from the Subarctic, had a small founding population, and followed a route southward that did not take them through the Great Basin (e.g., Li et al. 2002; Malhi et al. 2003; Smith et al Both mtDNA haplotype A and AL*Naskapi incidences confirm a northern origin for all Athapaskan populations. Lower sequence variation for mtDNA haplotype A among Apachean peoples, as well as the characteristics of Athabascan Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder and Athabascan Brainstem Dysgenesis Syndrome, imply genetic bottlenecking in the Apachean past. AL*Naskapi is absent among Numic speakers, but mtDNA haplotypes B and C among Apachean speakers show that gene flow did take place with their immediate, recent neighbours (Puebloan peoples for Navajo, Piman peoples for Apaches). Jack Ives and Sally Rice (2006) Correpondences in Archaeological, Genetic and Linguistic Evidence for Apachean History UCSB/MPI-EVA Language & Genes Workshop



32 SOME POSSIBLE TRANSITIONS IN PAMA-NYUNGAN KINSHIP SYSTEMS ?original Kariera/Dravidian >asymmetric (matrilateral) >Aranda (MMBDD/FFZDD = wife) >Luritja, weakening of crossness Cape York Peninsula Yolngu Kariyarra Arrernte Western Desert Karajarri


34 DRAVIDIAN TO MATRILATERAL (Kariera to Karadjeri)

35 KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE SYSTEMS IN CAPE YORK PENINSULA AND N.E.ARNHEM LAND Ayapathu There is a strong genetic connection between western CYP and Yolngu of NE Arnhem Land (White 1997)

36 THOMSON (1972) Ayapathu (Rigsby) Kariera Omaha skewing Prescriptive equations


38 The Indigenous Australian Marriage Paradox Small-World Dynamics on a Continental Scale Douglas R. White Woodrow W. Denham

39 Data - Problematic but Generally Accepted Ethnographers estimate that the populations of Indigenous Australian language groups were consistently small, averaging perhaps 500 people each. Classical models of Indigenous Australian kinship systems consistently embody endogamous marriage as both a norm and a logical requirement. White & Denham contd

40 Paleodemographers argue that small reproductively closed human populations are doomed due to stochastic variations in birth rates and sex ratios. If both the population estimates and the models are right, how did these small closed societies avoid extinction and indeed persist in Australia for 40,000 years and more? The Australian Paradox White & Denham contd

41 A Counter-Intuitive Approach We weaken the axiom for endogamy simply to a preference, one that might vary through time. We argue that widespread restrictions on marriages, especially when mates are scarce, may reduce choices locally, but facilitate integration of populations globally by forcing people to marry outside their own language groups. Simply put, local restrictions encourage the dispersion of marriages. [REPRODUCTIVE STRESS theory of changes in marriage/kinship systems being developed by White & Denham] White & Denham contd

42 CONCLUSIONS Different kinship systems are correlated with different marriage preferences and prescriptions Changes in kinship and marriage can be investigated using linguistic reconstruction of terminologies and changes of meaning of terms Different marriage systems are correlated with different distributions of genes Some systems like Dravidian bilateral cross-cousin marriage tend to limit distribution of spouses (and genes) while others disperse them The tendency for dispersal may be related to phases of spread of peoples and languages :upstream with endogamy and fission; downstream with exogamy, and language shift The proportion of language shift vs. pure migration, and its direction. can be investigated using genetics

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