Re: Murder most foul

William Loker (wloker@FACULTYPO.CSUCHICO.EDU)
Fri, 4 Oct 1996 13:39:00 PDT

Interesting topic and one I have often wondered about, but on which I
have not done formal research. Lee provides the following statistics
about "deadly combat" !Kung style. He uncovered 22 cases of homicide and
15 woundings (attempted murder?) during a 15 year period from1920-55.
All 25 killers were male as were 19 of 22 victims.

My question: can we approximate a "murder rate" from the !Kung based on
these figures? According to the video N!ai, there are 1,500 !Kung. What
kind of murder rate emerges if we assume a group size of 1,500 over a 35
year period? How would this compare with U.S. or Colombian murder rates?
Or homicide rates among the Yanomami, for that matter?

Bill Loker

From: owner-anthro-l[SMTP:owner-anthro-l@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, October 03, 1996 11:29 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list ANTHRO-L
Subject: Re: Murder most foul

-- [ From: Timothy Mason * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --

Martin Cohen says

> As for murder, I am afraid that while it does occur in tribal life,
no doubt did in the past, we are >the leader.

Whilst I agree with most of Martin's arguments, he is wrong here. An
interesting place to look for a discussion of this question is "Homicide"
Martin Daly and Margo Wilson., Aldine de Gruyter, 1988. Right at the
Columbia may well top the lists - well ahead of the USA. Killings in many
tribal societies have been of greater frequency than in the US. Oxford,
England, in the 1400s was a far more dangerous place to live in than is
modern America. This is not to deny that there are less violent societies
than your own.

As an afterthought, I wonder what you make of the following argument,
seems at present to have some popularity in law-enforcement circles. The
claim is that *if* you subtract from the overall homicide total the
of drug-related ghetto killings, the US murder rate is not at all
exceptional - so (unspoken but probably understood as read) we don't have
worry about it too much.

Timothy Mason