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Women in the CrossfireUnderstanding and Ending Honor Killing$
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Robert Paul Churchill

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190468569

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190468569.001.0001

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The Cultural Evolution of Honor Killing

The Cultural Evolution of Honor Killing

Chapter:
(p.181) Chapter 6 The Cultural Evolution of Honor Killing
Source:
Women in the Crossfire
Author(s):

Robert Paul Churchill

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190468569.003.0006

The focus in this chapter is on why honor killing ever came into existence as a social practice. The units for analysis are sociocultural systems and ecological pressures on the demographic groups among whom honor killing evolved. Here a population-level model of cultural evolution is employed to advance an argument for the best explanation for the development of honor killing. Only cultural systems performing adaptive functions continued among early desert nomads and pastoralist of the arid mountain uplands. Historical and anthropological research supports claims that severe ecological challenges led to two major functional systems: consanguine hierarchical patriarchy and the segmentary lineage system. Honor killing likewise evolved, first as a costly signaling system to avert loss of female reproductive assets and to avoid group splintering. It later evolved further as an exaptation and as a means of avoiding blood-related conflicts within segmentary lineage systems.

Keywords:   collective responsibility, costly signaling, cultural evolution, ecological constraints, exaptation, honest signaling, lineage groups, nomads and pastoralists, patriarchy, segmentary lineage system

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