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|Anthropology of kinship|
|Social and cultural anthropology|
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (October 2011)|
Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such a basis as being unsuitable for marriage or for other close personal relationships.
Endogamy is common in many cultures and ethnic groups. Several ethnic religious groups are traditionally more endogamous, although sometimes with the added dimension of requiring marital religious conversion. This permits an exogamous marriage, as the convert, by accepting the partner's religion, becomes accepted within the endogamous rules. Certain groups—such as Orthodox Jews—have practised endogamy as an inherent part of their religious beliefs and traditions.
Proponents claim that endogamy encourages group affiliation and bonding. It is a common practice among displanted cultures attempting to make roots in new countries while still resisting complete integration. It encourages group solidarity and ensures greater control over group resources (which may be important to preserve when a group is attempting to become established within an alien culture).
Endogamy can serve as a form of self-segregation; it helps a community to resist integrating and completely merging with surrounding populations. It helps minorities to survive over a long time as distinct communities within societies with other practices and beliefs.
Ethno-religious groups which have long resisted complete integration—for example, the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe—practise a higher level of endogamy. The Romani people also practise a higher level of endogamy, but are not an ethno-religious minority, since Roma groups may follow a variety of religions. Most are Christians or Islamic.
Notable examples of endogamous groups have been the Jews, Armenians, and Assyrians; Yazidi Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan; and the Mandaeans (early Christians and followers of John the Baptist) in Southern Iraq (all under Islamic majority), Turkmens Old Order Amish, Mennonites, Jehovah's Witnesses, Memons, Muslims, Knanaya Christians, Hindus (within their castes) and the Parsi of India (a non-Hindu minority in India). The caste system in India is based on an order of (predominantly) endogamous groups. Its formation is described in a shloka (verse) of the Purusha Sukta, a Vedic hymn, as follows:
- ब्रा॒ह्म॒णॊ॓உस्य॒ मुख॑मासीत् । बा॒हू रा॑ज॒न्यः॑ कृ॒तः ।
- ऊ॒रू तद॑स्य॒ यद्वैश्यः॑ । प॒द्भ्याग्ं शू॒द्रॊ अ॑जायतः ॥
- brāhmaṇosya mukhamāsīt | bāhū rājanyaḥ kṛtaḥ |
- ūrū tadasya yadvaiśyaḥ | padbhyā śūdro ajāyata ||
- The Brahmins came from His mouth; and from His arms came the kings.
- The merchants sprang forth from His thighs; and from His feet, the laborers were born.
In their 2009 study of outmarriage in Western Europe, Lucassen and Laarman clearly show a divide between immigrants of Caribbean and southern European descent and North African and South Asian descent. Whereas Caribbean and South European immigrants frequently intermarry with other ethnic groups in generation 1 and increasingly so in generation 2 (EU born), North African and South Asian immigrants show a weak tendency towards intermarriage in generation 1, and no significant increase in generation 2. On average, the tendency of Caribbean and South European immigrants to intermarry with other ethnic groups is four times higher than that of North African and South Asian immigrants.
The isolationist practices of endogamy may lead to a group's extinction rather than its survival, as genetic diseases may develop that can affect a larger percentage of the population. However, this disease effect would tend to be small unless there is a high degree of close inbreeding, or if the endogamous population becomes very small in size.
The Urapmin—a small tribe in Papua New Guinea—practise strict endogamy. The Urapmin also have a system of kinship classes known as tanum miit. Since the classes are inherited cognatically, most Urapmin belong to all of the major classes, creating great fluidity and doing little to differentiate individuals.
- Endogamy in the British monarchy
- Ethnic nepotism
- Arranged marriage
- Anti-miscegenation laws
- Tatachar, Sri Kotikanyadanam Sreekrishna. "Purusha suktam: Simple English meaning (word by word)|us/1-The%20Demography%20of%20Islam%20in%20Europe.pdf".
- http://srivaishnavam.com/stotras/ps_meaning.htm%7Caccessdate=22 November 2011
- Robbins, Joel (2004). Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society. University of California Press. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-520-23800-1.