chapter  21
27 Pages

Kin-Selection Theory, Kinship, Marriage and Fitness Among the Ya̧nomamö Indians

WithNapoleon A. Chagnon

In this chapter, the author aims to conduct the field research among the Yanomamo Indians of southern Venezuela between 1964 and the present, entailed some 41 months of residence in various villages of the tribe. A major motivation behind that field research had to do with reconciling the facts of demography with the ideology of kinship and marriage. The author shows that observed patterns of marriage constituted a system that was comprehensible in terms of both ideology and demographic data. He reviews some of these results and introduces additional new information that will illustrate the scientific merit of examining human social behavior from the general argument that much of it is adaptive in biological terms. Despite the fact that human kinship has symbolic and fictive dimensions, important in their own right, human kinship behavior can be demonstrated to have biological dimensions as well.