Re: Murder most foul

Timothy Mason (mason@CIE.FR)
Mon, 7 Oct 1996 12:55:31 -0500

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

William Loker, citing Lee's figures for homicide among the !Kung, asks <can
we approximate a "murder rate" from the !Kung based on these figures?>

Do the figures for the !Kung include all forms of homicide? Nancy Howell
reports 6 infanticides by !Kung women in 500 live births - which may be an
underestimate. Lee's figures seem to refer only to male on male violence,
and do not mention males killing females - is this because there were no
cases, or because this form of violence was not of direct interest to him?

Daly & Wilson calculate the rate from Lee's figures to be 293 / million /
annum. This is considerably higher than the average rate for the USA - but
is also much *lower* than the 1980 rate for Miami, which stood at c. 350,
and the 1972 rate for Detroit, which topped the 400 mark. It is also, I
believe, lower than the current rate for Columbia. It is very, very much
higher than rates for Western Europe.

Whether such comparisons are meaningful or not is another question. Some 15
of the 19 cases cited by Lee appear to have arisen from blood feuds - that
is to say that they would be considered *legitimate* by the !Kung themselves
, much as self-defence is considered legitimate in most modern societies.

Tim Mason