What is exogamy?

The exogamy Corresponds to a rule for the election of the spouse, where marriage relationships between members of the same group or kinship system are prohibited. This rule determines that the spouse should be chosen from a clan that is different from his own, prohibiting marriages between relatives.

In today's society, the rule specifically outlines the prohibition of marriages between groups of direct relatives, such as siblings, mother, father; etc. However, in some cultures exogamy is a severe norm that specifies who should be chosen as spouses and marriage to members of the same village, village or tribe is prohibited. In the case of not abiding by the disposition of exogamy, punishments range from open disapproval to death.

What is exogamy?

This implies that to get a mate, the members of a certain tribe or community must leave their environment to go and look for it in another completely different group. The usefulness of this rule is to maintain cooperation between groups, especially in tribes and villages where working together is essential for survival.

There are two types of forms of kinship in society, one is through blood and another through marriage. In this way, kinship forms a whole structure that while it is collective in nature, maintains its individuality, extending its influence around through the creation of other kinship structures, that is, new families. This network of kinship not only has a biological function, but also performs political and economic functions.

Exogamy is thought to be related to the prohibition rule of incest. However, exogamy prohibits marriage between persons of the same group - whether or not they are relatives. In addition, the rule prohibiting incest is aimed at prohibiting sexual relations, while exogamy specifically focuses on banning the marriage bond.

Origin of exogamy

The origin of the rule of exogamy is to favor the union between different social groups and the concept began to be used in the middle of century XIX when the first observations of the phenomenon were realized in Australian tribes. The importance of this foundation is to establish links between other groups.

The exogamy then began in the political arena, to strengthen the tribes with alliances with other peoples groups. It is believed that exogamy left with the capture of women from neighboring tribes to gain more power over them, or perhaps because of the shortage of women within the same group.

The Belgian anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss Indicated in her work that both exogamy and the law prohibiting incest have a practical approach: forcing women to reproduce with other men from different groups.

The same thing happens in biology. It is known that the cross between individuals of different group or clan is useful to diversify the offspring. A different case is that of inbreeding, which for some authors incest rather than being a taboo, gives rise to people with hereditary physical and mental problems and transmission of parallel genetic pictures. Thus, it is believed that the older societies developed in an exogamous and non-inbred way as was considered in the past.

It is probable that in these societies, although sibling marriage was permitted, it was reserved only for royal families who sought to preserve their lineage for generations to come. But this is not the case for all his people, who did not have this rule to choose their spouse.

Thus, exogamy corresponds to an adaptive pattern that favors the evolution of the group and avoids the possibility of offspring with genetic problems that are associated with inbreeding. This applies not only to humans, but to all animals.

The more distant the mixture of the individuals, the descendants will be healthier and stronger. Genetic conditions predisposing to the disease are often found in places where inbreeding was common, as in small communities closed for long periods of time.

However, exogamy not only represents a benefit in the genetic area, but also involves many social and political aspects of different societies and systems.

Exogamy in culture

There are various explanations of exogamy throughout history. Many believe it is related to totemism, the religious idea of ​​divine respect for clan blood, which is a sacred substance. It is likely that this was one of the motivations of the tribes when looking for spouses in other groups.

However, the exchange of men and women can not be considered as a unifying force of different groups, increasing the economic and political strength of the formed alliance.

At present, exogamy continues to be practiced in various modern societies and many described in classical literature. It is practiced in some Australian tribes, in the Turkish society and Eskimos. In these human groups, the exogamy has remained for several generations, managing to unite different clans in the same blood or language, and with this to achieve belonging and sense of a single nation.

There is also a type of exogamy called linguistic exogamy. In this case, the marriage takes place between two people who speak different languages.

It is very common in the Tukano tribes, indigenous groups of the northwest zone of the Amazon. In these marriages, getting the spouses to speak the same language and turn them into members of a nation, gives the sense of belonging and alliance.

In other parts of the world, as in the Atlantic area of ​​Canada, the same phenomenon occurs regularly, and families are usually made up of a spouse who speaks French while the other speaks English.

Exogamy in biology

From the scientific point of view, exogamy is related to the genetic distance between the couple. However, if viewed from the point of view of ethnic genetic interests, inbreeding allows the family to maintain kinship, without losing any representative gene or characteristic.

Take for example the case of a Caucasian and Chinese couple. Your children will carry the genes that are most dominant in each parent's case, but about 80% of the other person's genetic conditions will be lost.

In this way we discover that although exogamy does not preserve the pure genetic characteristics of the group from which it originates, what it allows is to spread the most dominant genes in new areas where offspring is born

Looking at it in a simple way, the endogamy in each genetic combination returns to"stir the cards of the gene pool", distributing a new combination but of the same elements. Instead, exogamy"stirs and replaces the deck with a new one"and distributes the new"cards"(genes) in each of the descendants.

Therefore, the interest of exogamy is not the preservation of genetic material over time from generation to generation. It is intended to blend with different people and thus expand an influence that goes beyond a DNA structure.

Exogamy in the world

Although within the explanations of exogamy we find even the theory of natural selection of Darwin, where the strongest and best prepared organisms are the ones that survive (better genetic combinations generated by exogamy); Nowadays exogamy is interpreted as a survival mechanism, since it reduces conflicts within the clan of origin with the neighboring tribes and establishes a sense of belonging and solidarity between different unrelated individuals.

Exogamy then establishes a loyalty and solidifies ties. This promotes social solidarity and cohesion, reducing any internal conflict between communities. In this view of alliances, marriage would be considered a primary and basic form of exchange, as a barter.

In a clan, exogamy reduces the tension of their women, since it eliminates the competition between them. Instead, it positively allows for alliances and stimulates concern and care among different social groups.

Exogamy is a common pattern in societies in Africa and India, where establishing alliances with neighboring clans through exogamy plays a vital role in the survival of their caste and sub-cast system. In this case, a woman in a relevant role within her caste or clan, happens to take another important role in a group other than his own, maintaining the position of the tribe or clan.

In this way marriage is important for forming alliances, transforms relationships, agrees certain rights and establishes legal kinship between the offspring. Marriage alliances are basic to the social structure of primitive cultures, with which a more solid formation is possible, establishing domestic arrangements, transmitting properties, and political authority.

There are three forms of marriage in the world: inbreeding-marriage with persons belonging to the same kinship or group; Hypogamy; Marriage in which the spouse is chosen by similar interests and one of them loses his social position when being included in the group of the other; And exogamy - which indicates that marriage must be performed with someone from another clan other than his own.

Finally, exogamy would be a tool with which groups and clans seeks to extend their network in society, development of political alliances, increased kinship and power, a sense of belonging and unity in the nations, choice of the spouse, Affections between different tribes, less hereditary diseases and adaptive advantages to build bonds and strengthen alliances that allow the strengthening and survival in the time of the cultures.