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THE EVOLUTION OF ADOPTION: A PRELIMINARY H.R.A.F. SURVEY.

THE EVOLUTION OF ADOPTION: A PRELIMINARY H.R.A.F. SURVEY. Mark Jeffreys, Dept. of English, Univ. of Ala. Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-1260.

Joan B. Silk and Sarah Blaffer Hrdy have offered evolutionary explanations for a variety of human alloparenting behaviors, including fostering and close-kin adoption. There is no tested model, however, to account for nonkin adoption as currently practiced in the West. This paper proceeds from the assumption that if close-kin adoption can be an evolved capacity, there is no reason to presume nonkin adoption cannot be also. The paper presents results from a recent, simple search of the term "adoption" in the anthropological database of the online Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF). Of the 1,810 matches in 48 cultural files, the majority are found to refer to close-kin adoption. Nonkin adoption is rarely mentioned, is confined to a few cultures in the database, and does not conform to the contemporary Western pattern. The most parsimonious model for the majority of these adoption references appears to be straightforward kin selection. Nonetheless, four types of nonkin adoption are noted: 1) of children resembli ng deceased genetic children; 2) of adult captives of war; 3) of entire lineages by larger lineages; 4) of girls to serve as future daughters-in-law. The limitations of the eHRAF data are considered, but the anomalous nature of Western-style nonkin adoption remains striking and seems worthy of further research pursuing a causal explanation for its emergence.
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Publication:Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U6AL
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:240
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