The Darwinian Heritage and Sociobiology

By Johan M. G. Van Der Dennen; David Smillie et al. | Go to book overview

12
Mating Patterns and Their Role in the Formation and Structure of the Abbad Tribe in Jordan

A. J. Nabulsi

Arab tribes are self-defined communities of divergent economies. They often include complex structures organized in a manner dictated by sociocultural, historical, and geographic factors. Relationships within the tribe are governed by their patrilateral relatedness, that is, genealogy, which is a description of tribal history ( Oppenheim, 1939, 1943; Peters, 1960; Lancaster & Lancaster, 1992). One can differentiate between microgenealogy, which describes the actual paternal descent lines of the smaller subunits, and macrogenealogy, which provides the framework of relationships between the tribal subunits, ( Lancaster, 1981). One may then suggest that mating behavior plays a major role in the structure and organization of Arab tribes, despite these being considered as loosely structured or even as representing political assemblies (e.g., Khoury & Kostiner, 1990). The definability of Arab tribes as biological entities, as breeding populations, thus becomes eminent. Investigating the mating patterns (random, assortative, or inbreeding) within these tribes would be the first step in this direction. Any association between the factors that may have influenced mating patterns and the makeup of the tribes can possibly provide valuable information on the long prevalence of this type of social organization, going back thousands of years, and on the maintenance of the regional population in a largely volatile environment.

In a case study on the biological structure of Arab tribes, the Abbad tribe in Jordan was the subject of an anthropological investigation. Empirical data and supplement any information on the tribe were compiled exclusively through house visits and interviews. Documents and assays that helped in the reconstruction of some family trees were provided by many genealogists from Abbad.

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