Evolutionary Contributions to Solving the “Matrilineal Puzzle”

  title={Evolutionary Contributions to Solving the “Matrilineal Puzzle”},
  author={Siobh{\'a}n M. Mattison},
  journal={Human Nature},
Matriliny has long been debated by anthropologists positing either its primitive or its puzzling nature. More recently, evolutionary anthropologists have attempted to recast matriliny as an adaptive solution to modern social and ecological environments, tying together much of what was known to be associated with matriliny. This paper briefly reviews the major anthropological currents in studies of matriliny and discusses the contribution of evolutionary anthropology to this body of literature… 
Matrilineal descent and the societies that have it have long been seen as being more in need of explanation than patrilineal descent, which tends to be treated as humanity’s default when discussing
What Explains Patrilineal Cooperation?
Assessment of patrilineal cooperation in the Dogon of Mali shows that kin selection is a more useful theory for explaining cooperative behavior within work-eat groups, and both quantitative data and informants’ statements show that WEGs are the more important unit for economic activity and family life.
The expendable male hypothesis
The expendable male hypothesis may explain the evolution of matriliny in numerous cases, and is concluded that female-centered approaches that call into doubt assumptions inherent to male-centered models of kinship are justified in evolutionary perspective.
A worldwide view of matriliny: using cross-cultural analyses to shed light on human kinship systems
Although matriliny and matrilocality are relatively rare in contemporary human populations, these female-based descent and residence systems are present in different cultural contexts and across the
The evolution of female-biased kinship in humans and other mammals
The issue includes broad theoretical and empirical reviews as well as specific case studies addressing the social and ecological correlates of FBK across taxa, time and space and leverages a comparative approach to test existing hypotheses and presents novel arguments that aim to expand the understanding of how males and females negotiate kinship across diverse contexts.
Using evolutionary theory to hypothesize a transition from patriliny to matriliny and back again among the ethnic Mosuo of Southwest China
Transitions to matriliny are said to be relatively rare. This evidence is sometimes used to support arguments that perceive matriliny as a problematic and unstable system of kinship. In this article,
The disequilibrium of double descent: changing inheritance norms among Himba pastoralists
There are important generational differences in how men view women's autonomy, which are probably attributable to both changing norms about inheritance and exposure to majority-culture views on women's roles, which shed light on how systemic change like the shifts in descent reckoning that occurred during the Bantu expansion can occur.
One piece of the matrilineal puzzle: the socioecology of maternal uncle investment
Maternal uncle relationships in which men invest resources (usually in the form of inheritance of material wealth) into their sisters' children are characteristic of matrilineal systems and
From matrimonial practices to genetic diversity in Southeast Asian populations: the signature of the matrilineal puzzle
The results suggest that male dominance, when combined with matrilocality, constrains inter-village migrations, and constitutes an underexplored cultural process shaping genetic patterns in human populations.
Emergent matriliny in a matrifocal, patrilineal population: a male coalitionary perspective
It is found that matrilineal kinship influences male social support networks, but not labour cooperation, which suggests new insights into men's roles in matricentric social organization.


Matriliny as daughter-biased investment
Spread of cattle led to the loss of matrilineal descent in Africa: a coevolutionary analysis
  • C. Holden, R. Mace
  • Sociology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2003
The results support the hypothesis that acquiring cattle led formerly matrilineal Bantu–speaking cultures to change to patrillineal or mixed descent, and outline the daughter–biased parental investment hypothesis for matriliny, supported by data on sex, wealth and reproductive success from two African societies.
Matrilineal inheritance: New theory and analysis
  • J. Hartung
  • Sociology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1985
Abstract In most cultures, extramarital sex is highly restricted for women. In most of those cultures, men transfer wealth to their own sons (patrilineal inheritance). In some cultures extramarital
The Matrilocal Tribe An Organization of Demic Expansion
This article integrates (1) research in the historical dynamics of state societies relating group solidarity and group expansion to cultural frontiers, (2) comparative research in anthropology
Paternity and inheritance of wealth
One of the oldest conjectures in anthropology is that men transfer wealth to their sister's son when the biological paternity of their ‘own’ children is in doubt1–12. Because maternity is certain, a
The Matrilocal Tribe
The argument is that “metaethnic frontiers,” where very different cultures clash, are centers for the formation of larger, more enduring, and more militarily effective groups.
Biased parental investment and reproductive success in Gabbra pastoralists
  • R. Mace
  • Economics
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 1996
Results are interpreted as competition between same-sex siblings for parental investment, in the form of their father’s herd, which is more intense between sons than daughters as parental investments are greatest in males.
Evolution of polygamous marriage by maximization of inclusive fitness.
Evolution of monogamous marriage by maximization of inclusive fitness
It is shown that, within the framework of inclusive fitness theory, monogamous marriage can be viewed as the outcome of the strategic behaviour of males and females in the allocation of resources to the next generation.
Kinship and Evolved Psychological Dispositions
This article revisits the old controversy concerning the relation of the mothers brother and sisters son in patrilineal societies in the light both of anthropological criticisms of the very notion of