Allison Skidmore

“Who says one wife is enough? The Evolution of Socially Imposed Monogamy”

Many developed nations throughout the world practice socially imposed monogamy, while most cultures around the world practice polygyny. Price (1999) found that out of 156 contemporary societies, 84 of them were monogamous, and in those societies, the population was much higher than the polygynous societies. Alexander (1979) first introduced the term “socially imposed monogamy,” and he argued it to be a method wealthy men used to gain political support from poorer men after the spread of democracy. In contrast, Kanazawa and Still (1999) believed socially imposed monogamy was a result of female choice when the inequalities among men were relatively low. Since then, there have been multiple theories as to why some nations enforce monogamy as a mating practice while others do not. This paper examines theories as to why socially imposed monogamy developed, and how monogamy has evolved throughout time.

Justin King



Hannah Vahle


Parental investment in offspring is a fundamental tradeoff between quantity and quality. Parents have to make decisions based on their available resources.  This paper will investigate the relationship between parental investment and infanticide cross culturally, including how factors such as number and sex of offspring play a role in the occurrence of infanticide. Different perspectives in the fields of behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, and dual transmission theory will be reviewed and addressed.


Trisha Pemberton

“Theories About The Occurrence Of Male Homosexual Pedohebephilia

When examining the historical context of the occurrence of male homosexual pedohebephilia there is much evidence that this is nothing new to the world, but only recently have psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists been able to find a term to call this occurrence. From a biological evolutionary perspective this coupling of individuals seems to have no benefit but there is much more than just lack of procreation and success of offspring taking place. There is a dichotomous relationship between group and individual, a paradox of an individuals’ selfishness for success and co-operation with the larger group they are a part of.  Throughout the literature one will find that many of the younger males who participate in the coupling with an older male do it to form a sort of alliance with the older population of their society or it is symbolic of transitioning from boyhood into manhood. In return, forming this alliance or obtaining this transition, the younger individual has cemented his place within the group and therefore securing his success.

Jessica Ditmore

Social Capital: Using a Concept of Investment as a Measure of Parental Involvement and Childhood Success”

Social capital, the perceived economic or social benefits brought about by the support and aid of family and/or community members, plays a substantial role in parental investment, fertility, and the success of an individual. Although it can be measured and defined in many different ways, most sources seem to agree that the presence (or absence) of social capital and the social exchange theory can help to label the success of a societies’ children. With this knowledge, studies may be done to interpret just how great an impact social capital has on various societies.

By combining numerous sources, like Hilliard Kaplan’s A Theory of Fertility and Parental Investment in Traditional and Modern Human Societies (1996), Nan M. Astone, et al.’s Family Demography, Social Theory, and Investment in Social Capital (1999), Ralph B. McNeal Jr’s Parental Involvement as Social Capital: Differential Effectiveness on Science Achievement, Truancy, and Dropping Out (1999), Frank F. Furstenberg Jr. and Mary E. Hughes’s Social Capital and Successful Development among At-Risk Youth (1995), and James S. Coleman’s Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital (1998), I hope to formulate an understanding of the impacts of rearing children (especially multiple children) on a parent’s investment in social capital. Additionally, I hope to determine the differences in social capital usage cross-culturally and through time (if applicable). Finally, using the information gathered in this research, I hope to formulate some conclusions regarding the efficacy of social capital in creating more “successful” children (and, ultimately adults).

Not much research seems to have been completed on this specific topic in some time, so finding and correctly interpreting data may prove to be difficult. However, I believe that, in compiling the knowledge gained in the various studies of social capital, a more accurate and thorough analysis of the process that drives human investment and development will become available.


Holly Staggs

“The Restorer of the Republic: An Analysis of Augustus’ Social, Moral, and Political Reforms with Regards to the Roman Family”

Imperator Caesar Augustus has been a captivating figure in ancient Roman history for over 2,000 years. As the founder of the Roman Empire and its first emperor, he forever changed the course of Roman history and politics. During his 45 year reign, Augustus initiated a comprehensive program of reforms intended to restore social order, improve morality, and govern the family. Augustus saw himself as the restorer of traditional Roman values and set into motion a number of laws that sought to penalize sexual indulgence, increase marriages, and promote child bearing. This paper will include a study of various ancient literary sources on these reforms along with iconographic and epigraphic data. By analyzing these data, it may be possible to successfully illuminate the impact of Augustan reforms during the Early Imperial Period and its current impact in modern society.  Ultimately, Augustus, the founding father of western civilization, forever transformed politics concerning the family.


Charles Hibner

"Definitions of the Native American Berdache Through Time”

The figure of the berdache in the Native American community historically referred, in the simplest terms, to a male who took on mannerisms and characteristics of a woman, although there is evidence of female berdaches (women who took on the mannerisms and characteristics of a man) in the historical record as well.  There has been much research and disagreement on the role of the berdache in Native American cultures ever since the time of contact.  Throughout the years there have been emphases on the sexual, social, and economic aspects of the designation of the berdache.  Further complicating the discussion is the variation in which the position was seen by both Native American tribes and by those who were recording information about the tribes.  Biases existed – and still do – on all sides, which led, at times, to the misreporting and loss of valuable information regarding the sensitive subject that the berdache represents.  In this paper I will review some past literature on the berdache in the Native American community, as well as some current research that shows the idea embodied by the berdache have been co-opted by marginalized members of the community to fit their own search for their place within that community.

Kasey A. Mathiesen

“Beauty and the Beholder: An Evaluation of Mate Selection in a Changing World”

Cross culturally there has been a general perception of men preferring younger females, and females preferring older males. Many scholars have visited the idea of mate selection and have acknowledged a common ground of physical attraction which has a significant influence on mate choice. Popular culture in the United States has made an impression on the concept of Cougars, older women having sexual relationships with younger males. Some scholars imposed this concept as a rare social phenomenon, however I proposed this concept of “Cougar-ism” is a trend to which physical appearance has been modified to give a younger more youthful appearance, allowing for an appealing influence on mate selection. This paper will address the possible reasons for the Cougar trend and how society has influence it.

Tyler Mathers

Marriage is a social union with many economic complexities, and when observing this universal occurrence, marriage also differs greatly across cultures on its use in their society.  In order to fully comprehend the use of marriage, we must look at the steps leading up to unions (i.e. dating, arranged marriages) and their roles, and conflicts that arise during these unions that usually lead to divorce.  We will take a look at prominent cultures that will give us a wide range of perspectives on the intricacies of a successful marriage as well as unsuccessful tactics in sustaining a working union.  Discussion will include more emphasis on the conflicts that arise in marriages and violence in the domestic household that could eventually lead to the end of the social union.

Vaughan Wehr


Nuclear family incest is almost a universal taboo. The negative effects of kinship mating have been consistently scientifically proven. One of the main problems with incest is the likelihood of fatal or unwanted recessive alleles. This brings lower fitness in offspring. Infant mortality rates are higher in babies that are products of incest, and their overall health is famously lower than babies who are not products of incest. Another problem with incest is the Westermarck effect. This concludes that people are not sexually attracted to people that they generally grow up with in close proximity. Given this information, it could be assumed that incest is would not be culturally accepted. This is false.

When socially accepted incest occurs, it generally occurs in the higher statuses of society. Royal incest was common in Ancient Egypt, Inca Peru, Hawaii, Thailand, Monomotapa, Bunyoro, Ankole, Buganda, Shilluk, Zande, Nyanga and Dahomey (Van Den Berghe and Mesher, 300). There are many theories of why royal incest occurs, and this paper delves in to the reasons and explanations of royal incest. It also goes in to explaining some specific instances of royal incest and how incest affected the marriage and offspring.

This paper takes shape after research from Pierre L. Van Den Berghe and Gene M. Mesher’s Royal Incest and Inclusive Fitness, as well as Incest Behavior and Incest Taboo by Christopher Bagley. Sibling Incest in the Royal Families of Egypt, Peru, and Hawaii by Ray H. Bixler also provides some valuable information that helps shape this paper.


Phong Tran

“The Structure and Functions of Fictive Kinships"

Kinship is a social construction.  How cultures define kin, often through blood or through marriage, dictate human social patterns such as altruism. Hamilton’s rule suggests that the degree of relatedness drives kin altruism; individuals will act more altruistically towards kin that are closer in blood relation.  Yet, in non-related individuals, whom formalize a relationship through ritual, a different mechanism emerges. The pattern of reciprocal altruism, or “tit for tat” strategy, can be found in these non-related relationships known as fictive kinship. Fictive kinships can emulate the roles and responsibilities of related kin by creating and strengthening bonds for social and economic reasons. This paper aims to analyze these roles by looking at the structure and functions of various types of fictive kinships across cultures such as compadrazgo, blood brothers, and milk kinship.


Katie Manley

 “The Third Gender: Sexuality, roles, and acceptance of berdache status among Native American groups”

It is well documented that several Native American groups have members of society known as “berdache” or “two-spirit.” These are generally males who take on female characteristics in work and dress. Specialization in certain spiritual and production tasks is common among said people. Distinct skills and duties are expected of the berdache and include shaman, healing, medicinal, or psychic powers. Berdache status is much more complicated and variable than just performing the opposite sex’s tasks. It is something that completely changes the function of the individual as single person and as part of a larger group. The biological sex of an individual is of relatively low importance, rather, the gender roles in which they exhibit strong characteristics creates this dual spirit person. Sexuality of this third gender is something unique and pushes the boundaries of the traditional separate male and female sexes and as simply homosexual or heterosexual. Among the berdache, sexuality is intricate and is argued in several different ways, not always clearly defined as homosexual or heterosexual. In this paper, I will examine the variance of sexuality, societal roles, and the notion of acceptance and place within the group of berdache people in Native American tribes. Western influence has been an integral part in condoning berdaches, yet Native tribes continue to respect and utilize the resources berdaches are able to provide for the tribe. The sexuality, roles, and acceptance of the berdache is complex, yet is essential in understanding these exclusive individuals of Native North America.


Robert Scheer

“Honor-Shame and Contemporary Society”

The Honor-Shame complex is a difficult concept to understand when one is not a part of the culture that allows it.  The concept refers to the punishment of a person who shames his or her family.  This punishment can include physical and psychological abuse or even death.  While the complex does not distinguish between men and women, it is the women that are usually the ‘cause’ for the shame.  This paper will discuss what constitutes a shameful act, the punishment in relation to the act, and the cultures this complex is found in. 

Logan Whitney

"A place for the hard to place: a look at where homosexuality fits in society".

This will paper will cover the topic of homosexuality and where it fits into societies, both young and old. Homosexuality poses an interesting issue when it comes to placing it into a proper building block of societal structure. Some cultures accept the practice of homosexuality to varying degrees and others shun it. Ancient Greece is a perfect example of a society that not only accepted homosexuality, but also used it as teaching tool for young men. In its accepted form, the act of homosexual sexual intercourse was used as a sort of coming of age ritual that offered young men not only an intellectual tutor but also a sexual tutor as well. The vast majority of men were not what we would deem homosexual by today’s standards as they also had fulfilling sexual relationships with women. However there is evidence of what we would call “gay” men which were placed outside of the norm and suffered minor ridicule but were generally accepted. This minor ridicule still occurs in some cultures today. In certain Native American tribes a type of homosexuality is accepted but in a much different form. By looking at a variety of societies, how they view homosexuality, how that view has changed and where those individuals fit in society will give a look at where the world places these individuals in a society. By looking at examples from the Americas, China, South Korea, Indonesia, India, as well as Ancient Greece and Rome it can be seen that homosexuality is placed in different building blocks of social structure. Different cultures define and use homosexuality differently giving us no universally accepted place; however what is universal is that different cultures will look at things differently just as they do with many topics.

Katherine Latham

“Accident or Extortion? Bride Burning and Dowry in India”

My paper will explore the traditional customs associated with Hindu marriage, the appearance of dowry exchange, and the increased occurrence of “bride burning” in India.  Dowry death is a form of homicide most closely associated with Hindu marriages in India. In this form of marital extortion a bride is killed by her husband or his family if her parents cannot meet the demands of her dowry, demands which may increase after the couple has been married.  The most common form of dowry death, in which brides die in suspicious fires, has been termed “bride burning.”  An increase in the suicide rate of married women has been linked to similar financial pressures placed upon brides by their husband and his family.  Traditionally, the payment of dowry is not a part of Hindu marriage rituals and the custom seems to have appeared in concurrence with European contact.  The practice first gained prominence among higher castes, but gained popularity in even the lower castes because it offered a way for daughters to marry up.

In 1961 the Indian government passed the Dowry Prohibition Act which banned the practice of dowry exchange.  However, this law is easily circumvented in the form of gift giving.  Demand for increasingly large dowries has been linked to a rise in income and consumerism in modern India, as well as the increasing number of women in professional careers.  This trend has contributed to the suppression of education among women in poorer castes to keep demands for their daughter’s dowries low, an increase in female infanticide, and an increased occurrence of dowry death when families cannot meet the ever increasing demands of their in-laws. 

Keaton Soto-Olson


The focus of this paper is a historical and contemporary analysis of the Hijra (third gender) and the various issues surrounding their identity, particularly the recognition (or lack thereof) in both legal and social fields, as well as the limited social inclusion (homogenization and loss of local idiosyncrasies, castration in some cases, limited inclusion economically) and outright exclusion (lack of rights, discrimination, higher rates of HIV/STI’s). Social structure within Hijra groups will also be addressed.  In order to create a more holistic view the focus will be more regional, not honed in on any one particular area or group, rather any Hijra populations that have been researched from several countries in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangledesh) will be analyzed in order to create a holistic picture of the issues facing a population that spans across borders.


John Fitzpatrick

“Adoption in tribal societies”

Adoption is a rather peculiar phenomenon of human society which is almost exclusive to our species, at least so far in how prolific it is in our species. Adoption by definition is considered an expression of altruism, and in our modern society it would certainly seem to be just that. Adoption of course is not simply an invention of modern times though but exists cross-culturally; in an HRAF search of 258 cultures 162 cultures are shown to have some form of adoption. The prevalence of adoption has had many anthropologist attempts to explain how it could have developed from an evolutionary perspective. Much of the attention anthropologists have devoted to studying this phenomenon has been directed to the cultures of the Oceania island nations, where adoption is quite prevalent, and so much of the current theories on adoption are based on the forms of adoption that exist there, which has been explained by anthropologist like Joan Silk as a socio-biological mechanism used to improve one’s own inclusive fitness. However a casual perusal of the literature found in the HRAF shows that this model may not provide a sufficient explanation for all instances of adoption outside of Oceania. I attempt to review the current anthropological literature on the subject in order to explore the current explanations for the diversity in the development of adoption throughout our species.