Effects of climate on certain cultural practices

Explorations in Cultural Anthropology: Essays in Honor of George Peter Murdock McGraw-Hill New York Published In Pages: 511-544
By Whiting, John W.M.


This study explores ecological reasons that might explain why boys are mostly circumcised in tropical regions, particularly in Africa and the insular Pacific. The author postulates a long causal chain linking: 1) tropical climate to the growing of root and fruit crops; 2) the need to keep babies on mother's milk for as long as possible where the adult diet is lacking in protein; 3) a long post-partum sex taboo as a way to space births; 4) the practice of polygyny (and associated mother-child sleeping) in the face of a long sex taboo; 5) patrilocal residence; and 6) male initiation ceremonies which are believed to result from the combination of mother-child sleeping, the long poast-partum sex taboo and patrilocal residence.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Ethnographic ReportsResearchers OwnLaboratory of Human Development at Harvard
Ethnographic Atlas (EA)Other Researchers

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