Consanguineous Sexual Relationships in Societies throughout the World

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Consanguineous Sexual Relationships in Societies throughout the World

Rosie Hunerwadel


Anthropology 324

I'm originally from the Sothern United States so I hear a lot of jokes about incest. This doesn't really offend me because there are derogatory jokes about all regions of the world, but it got me thinking, is the South any more predispose to incest then the rest of the country? Then the rest of the world? I wanted to find out, and this paper gave me the perfect vehicle to do just that.

What I learned was both surprising and enlightening. I found views on incest that go against everything I've ever been taught, however they have opened my eyes to a different way of thinking. In the rest of this paper I will focus on the Westermarck effect, understanding the incest taboo and its proposed origins, the issue on whether incest is actually inappropriate, and different societies around the world which practice or have practiced consanguineous sexual relationships.

The three societies I will focus on the most are the Incan's, the Egyptians, and the Hawaiians.

First let's clear up some terminology. Consanguinity is a word derived from the Latin consanguineus which means "of common blood," so today we take it to mean two people sharing common ancestory ("consanguinity" 2009:1). Affinity is very similar to consanguinity with one crucial difference, no actual blood relation. This relationship is usually brought about through a marriage, for example Greg and Marcia Brady are affinal relations. Incest is the act of consummating a relationship with someone so closely genetically related to you that it is prohibited by law to marry them. Inbreeding is when the act of incest produces offspring (Merriam-Webster 2009).

According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2009:1) there are three general statements that can be made about incest. First,