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Sat Feb 2, 2013, 08:27 AM

When Taking Multiple Husbands Makes Sense

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/02/when-taking-multiple-husbands-makes-sense/272726/



For generations, anthropologists have told their students a fairly simple story about polyandry -- the socially recognized mating of one woman to two or more males. The story has gone like this:

While we can find a cluster of roughly two dozen societies on the Tibetan plateau in which polyandry exists as a recognized form of mating, those societies count as anomalous within humankind. And because polyandry doesn't exist in most of the world, if you could jump into a time machine and head back thousands of years, you probably wouldn't find polyandry in our evolutionary history.

That's not the case, though, according to a recent paper in Human Nature co-authored by two anthropologists, Katherine Starkweather, a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri, and Raymond Hames, professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska. While earning her masters under Hames' supervision, Starkweather undertook a careful survey of the literature, and found anthropological accounts of 53 societies outside of the "classic polyandrous" Tibetan region that recognize and allow polyandrous unions. (Disclosure: I first learned of Starkweather's project while researching a controversy involving Hames and he is now a friend.)

Indeed, according to Starkweather and Hames, anthropologists have documented social systems for polyandrous unions "among foragers in a wide variety of environments ranging from the Arctic to the tropics, and to the desert." Recognizing that at least half these groups are hunter-gatherer societies, the authors conclude that, if those groups are similar to our ancestors -- as we may reasonably suspect -- then "it is probable that polyandry has a deep human history."

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Reply When Taking Multiple Husbands Makes Sense (Original post)
xchrom Feb 2013 OP
Renew Deal Feb 2013 #1
ProgressiveProfessor Feb 2013 #2

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 08:50 AM

1. This part about "excess men" is interesting

Modern India and China don't look anything like simple egalitarian societies. So what will happen there? Hames points out that, "Landowning societies all over the world have faced an excess of men at one point or another and have dealt with this by sending these men to the priesthood, to fight in wars, or to explore or make a name for themselves" elsewhere. He concludes, "It is clear that these countries will have to do something with all of the excess men, but polyandry will probably not occur as a widespread solution."

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:19 AM

2. I got into a discussion with some TEOTAWAKI preppers about this recently

I suggested some form of group or clan marriage would evolve if the SHTF (their term). They were horrified and insisted that their godly way would survive, regardless of the circumstances. It was hard not to laugh.

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