Anthropology and Demography: Marriage, Liaison or Encounter?

Anthropology and Demography: Marriage, Liaison or Encounter?

E. A. Hammel & Diana Friou

Introduction[1] After two centuries of uncertain success in explaining demographic behavior through the use of economic and sociological variables, some demographers have turned to Culture as a source of understanding of social action, or at least to ethnographic methods of data collection as a means of improving their data. Some anthropologists, weary of the undefinable variables of traditional interest in their own discipline, have seized on demographic events as certain and measurable. The two disciplines have begun to eye eachother with interest. In this paper we explore some of the opportunities and problems inherent in that mutual interest.[2] 

It is important, in the construction of any relationship between disciplines, as between persons, to think about how that relationship might ultimately be structured. Is this courtship between anthropology and demography to result in a marriage, in an enduring liaison, or in a series of brief encounters? Will a substantial field of anthropologically informed demography, or of demographically informed anthropology arise with its own bilaterally competent members, will there be a few devoted but monospecialized collaborators across the disciplinary boundary, or will we see only occasional and transient connections, more the result of chance than of plan?

Similarly, in constructing a disciplinary relationship, it is important to be honest about the past. Without that understanding any encounter, however durable, may turn out like that between the lovers in Gover's OneHundred Dollar Misunderstanding (1961). Each, although experiencing events that were objectively identical, would interpret them divergently. This point emerges strongly from any discourse between anthropologists and demographers, especially between more recently trained social/cultural anthropologists and technical demographers who, after all, on account of their age, might be expected more likely to meet, connect, and perhaps prove intellectually fertile. We begin with a review of some of the problems offered by the respective histories of the two disciplines. Differences between the Disciplines From the outset, demography has had a strong positivist, quantitative, and policy oriented tradition. It emerged from two roots, one in the political arithmetic of William Perry and the theoretical concerns of the Scottish moral philosophers, the other in the increasingly sophisticated mathematics of Gaunt, Halley, Lotka, and others.[3] It was driven on the one hand, as in the work of Malthus, by a concern with the relationships between socioeconomic conditions and other measurable aspects of the populations displaying those conditions, and on the other by a fascination with formal modelling. In these characteristics and history it is much like modern statistics, and its relation to anthropology is much like that between stastistics and sociology. 

Moreover, demography has always been close to the seat of power, employed in the study and execution of policy. Kreager's paper in this volume[4] shows how the development of census taking is closely tied to the emergence of powerful, centralized states. The rare, politically sensitive and reflective reviews of demographic theory (Hodgson 1983, 1988, Donaldson 1990), like those of statistics (Hacking 1990) show how close and problematic the relationship with power has been. The view of demography as an instrument of the state can cause trouble in a relationship. Scholars who go into demography are relatively untroubled by any guilt that may arise from association with power, and most comfortable with well ordered and preferably elegant constructions of the social world. Disorder spurs them to make such constructions.

Demographers have another interesting characteristic. In the purest form of their work they concentrate on the statistical mechanics of populations rather than on the actions of individuals. Their proper calling is the analysis of aggregates even if they often justify aggregate analysis by reference to individual behavior and thereby move into the domains of other social sciences, whether economics, sociology, or anthropology. Townsend in this volume refers to the "hard core - soft rind" simile employed by Schofield and Coleman, a parallel that seems quite natural to demographers but evokes astonished deconstruction from anthropologists. The compulsion of demographers to consider individual behavior rather than only aggregate results is strongest when they are asked to advise how the behavior of aggregates might be changed, since changes in the aggregates are best approached by asking how the behavior of the constituents of those aggregates might be changed.[5] Sometimes demographers reaching for causality focus on institutions, sometimes on values, sometimes on markets. The trespass of demographers on the fields of concern of sister social sciences is prompted by that same connection with policy mentioned above. Are demographers simply servants of the state? Yet the trespass of other social sciences on demography's turf is also manifest (for example at this conference), as the disciplines of the soft rind encroach, and the hard core shrinks into ever more cabalistic manipulations of data (see for example the critique by McNicoll 1992).

Anthropology by contrast has a weak quantitative tradition although originally a strong positivist natural-science, observational tradition. Further, since the 15th century, anthropologists or their precursors have been those members of the Western philosophical tradition who have confronted the exotic and the extinct -- in the struggle to understand the world beyond Europe and the discovery of their own antiquity. While demographers have dealt with the counting of the familiar, anthropologists have dealt with the understanding of the strange. Latterly, the positivist natural-science tradition of anthropology has weakened under a critical onslaught, fueled first by left-wing condemnation of its associations with governance in European colonies or the pursuit of American military or diplomatic adventures in LDCs (most notably in Southeast Asia), then by a corrosive postmodernist wave of doubt about the ability of anyone to be sure of any observation. Some of these characteristics and events have had a strong selection effect on recruitment into anthropology. The field tends to attract those alienated from their own culture to begin with, and especially from its positivist components, the most objectionable of which to them is what they call linear thinking, or what others would call science. They celebrate their innumeracy. Anthropologists, at least the postmodern variety, are uncomfortable with order and happiest when the world lies deconstructed around their feet. They are also hypersensitive to any association with the interests of states or elites; indeed their code of ethics proclaims a first responsibility to the communities they study.

Anthropologists, or at least ethnographers, frequently have another interesting characteristic. They do not care much for aggregates. Even when they generalize to "cultures" their picture of a culture is individuated and humanistic rather than summary and statistical. Their focus is most often on the individual actor in a broadly defined social and cultural milieu. They specialize in the classical mechanics of populations, focussing on individual motivation, action, and response. Thus they stand to demography as Galileo or Newton did to Einstein, more comfortable with the click of ivory on some institutionally and natively defined table of individual interactions than with a broad and abstract geometry of social space.

To be fair about it, there are demographers who are more concerned with individual behavior than they are with the behavior of aggregates, even though their data may represent aggregates while only their theory involves individuals. Some demographers seek to situate individual demographic behavior in broader context by using sample survey techniques. Similarly, there are anthropologists whose concern is with ecological and other structural constraints on aggegate behavior, even though much of their field experience lies in extended conversations with individual informants. There are still other anthropologists whose methods are exquisitely quantitative, whether applied to groups or to individuals. There are anthropologists who work as field explorers in human physiology, especially in reproduction. Finally, there are anthropologists who work rather like historians, especially in demographic history, dredging like archaeologists for the detritus of behavior, combining individual with aggregate sources, trying always to relate their findings to broad issues of culture and institutional context (see for example the papers in Greenhalgh 1995). Nevertheless, the picture I have drawn of the demographer as generalizing number-cruncher and of the anthropologist as sensitive interpreter of native poetics has some truth in it, as do most caricatures. Further, as McNicoll pointed out in conference discussion, both anthropologists and demographers have particular professional publics to which they must respond and particular traditional constraints within which they must operate. The assaults of the postmodernists on more traditional forms of anthropological investigation and indeed on any objective enterprise are a case in point, and the obstacles they raise to the interdisciplinary cooperation we here discuss are formidable.[6] If one had to put the differences between the disciplines in a nutshell, one would remark that while demographers and old-time anthropologists regarded sex as an independent variable, the new anthropology regards gender as a dependent one (or in their terms, a phenomenon to be deconstructed - see Riley, this volume).

On account of these differences, complete incomprehension is often the most welcome outcome of interdisciplinary encounter, outright hostility the worst (see Scheper-Hughes, this volume). Part of the struggle of anthropologists to understand the exotic had an intellectual outcome - the realization that familiar Western categories, from language grammar to family classification, could not easily be applied to nonWestern phenomena or even some Western phenomena.[7] The struggle had a moral outcome - the conviction that no variant of human culture could be privileged over another, that is, that consideration of cultures had to be relativistic. Each culture, the anthropologists held, had to be considered and understood on its own terms, had its own logic, had its own worth.[8]

Anthropologists are on these accounts likely not to be able to understand or agree with many demographic analyses. Such analyses often use Western-based cultural categories and ignore the internal logic of local societies. They use quantitative techniques that depend on the willing suspension of disbelief, a quality not well developed in anthropologists. Further, they are often applied in the furtherance of Western political aims, such as economic development, modernization, and population stabilization.[9]

Demographers, on the other hand, are uncomprehending of the fact that their categories and quantitative models can be seen as unnatural and inapplicable. After all, they do occasionally achieve stastistically significant results in their regression equations. When demographers protest that they go to uncommon length to correct errors in their data, they do not understand that anthropologists may be questioning not only their accuracy but also the very systems of classification they employ. Demographers are also profoundly disturbed by the idea that because they work on policy relevant endeavors they are the lackeys and running dogs of a hegemonic system. Few of them can spell hegemonic. They are less troubled, for example, by the exportation of White, upper middle class, emergent norms of gender relations and the status of women to LDCs than are otherwise socially identical anthropologists who have watched the destruction of whole cultures through the importation of a few, important Western ideas like monotheism and T-shirts.

No one easily accepts the questioning of their accustomed cultural categories and deepest values. Anthropologists are likely to be profoundly upset by an enterprise that questions the intrinsic validity of social concepts in a society under study, or by any tendency to export to it the categories of others, and especially by the use of approaches or data that ignore the hegemonic influence of the West. They will display little respect for mathematical reasoning because to them it is gibberish. Demographers are likely to be relatively insensitive to the political implications of their work, not to mention the inapplicability of their analytic categories, and unquestioning of the reality of their schema to the social actors they purport to describe. Using the Idea of Culture We define culture for the purposes of this exposition as a set of norms or values that influence behavior.[10] By behavior we mean observable human action, including the formulation or enunciation of and response to culture. Defining culture as a set of norms is important to the demographic enterprise, since it gives meaning to the causal models employed, generally in economic analyses of demographic behavior. It permits a more flexible and sensitive definition of maximization than that afforded by the anthropologically repugnant notion of the universal economically rational actor. It allows for example a social-category definition of taste and the idea of optimization on several dimensions of value, including social value. 

The employment of culture in this way is important because it explicates human agency. Human agency is important to realistic modelling of causation in economics and sociology, but it is particularly important to anthropologists, among many of whom the recognition of human agency is a symbolic protest against analyses of social action that depict actors as automatons. The effect of agency to the economist or sociologist is some measurable amount of residual variance in outcome; to the anthropologist it is a beam from the human soul, which will only be extinguished if its source is found. 

If demographers and anthropologists could be persuaded to abandon the search for understanding of motivation among rational actors, much dispute could be avoided. Anthropologists would be much more likely to accept results that showed that some kinds of people acted one way, while others acted another, if the stories did not contain some subtext about what motivated them to do it. Such descriptive accounts would be in good accord with that ethnological tradition that has sometimes been called "butterfly collecting" (Leach 1961), and the thicker the description the better.

Thick descriptions allow the reader to move in cloud of vicarious intuition and symbolic connection in which much can be appreciated even if it is not understood. Is a less mystical approach possible? Completely formalistic depictions might be less likely than causal ones to arouse dispute. Much might be salvaged by abandoning the Aristotelian efficient cause and resting only with formal causality. But there is probably no hope for that, since anthropologists do not like formalisms, and demographers usually are not bothered by the absence of agency, unless they are economists and simply assume it. If we are to pursue the idea of culture as a source of motivation, we are obliged to examine it further.[11 ] 

Although culture has observable manifestations in enunciated texts and bodies of symbols, in its operational sense it must exist in people's heads. Just as you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, you cannot see what is in people's heads without destroying or at least altering the evidence. In the absence of some magical scanner, people have to tell you what is in their heads. It is difficult to know whether statements of behavioral norms are descriptions of such norms as they may apply to future behavior, or rationalizations of past behavior, or rationalizations of anticipated future behavior. To be sure, the investigator can try to achieve some control by asking about specific behaviors that occurred in the past (in which instance rationalization might be more likely) versus those that might occur in the future (in which instance rationalization might be less likely), but the ability of persons to imagine what might have been before it even happens makes the task difficult.[12] One can of course try very cleverly to contextualize and contrast behaviors, controlling as much as possible for factors thought to be constraining or causal, but that exercise often involves the investigator's mind more than the informant's. One can elicit the commentary of some actors on the behavior of others, but it is then difficult to understand just why they made the evaluations they did. The promlems inherent in this enterprise can be seen by inquiring into behavioral motivation within one's own family or circle of colleagues and friends.

In our view, the use of culture as a causal force in explanations that depend on motivation can have, operationally, only a heuristic value. The statements of informants about their own culture, in their ongoing critique of local social action, provide us with plausible motives for that social action. We can construct models using those motives, and some will show better correspondence with observation than others. We can continue to accept the motivational principles of those models as analytically useful, but we had better not believe them in any absolute sense. This kind of approach may be congenial to the economists, who can thereby thicken their rational actors. The alternative, to consider institutions and symbols as constraints on otherwise randomly and inscrutably motivated behavior may be more congenial to sociologists, whose classic style involves the intelligent cross-classification of social action. It is not clear whether the approach would be congenial to many ethnographers, who seem divided into those who desparately want to believe something and those who insist on believing nothing. They would be relieved of this epistemological burden if they could simply work as interpretive opportunists, using whatever natively enunciated commentary or theory of behavior made the most sense when compared to ethnographic observation of that behavior. Only if they moved to intergroup comparison would they be obliged to fit these locally derived models into larger theoretical frameworks. At that point their dilemma would match that of the demographers, whose explanations of demographic behavior are often locally accurate but globally insufficient. It is comparison and broader generalization that forces science to invent truths that may have a hollow ring in their narrowest span. Using Ethnographic Data The utility of anthropology to the demographic enterprise may also lie in the ability of anthropologists to work at close range and for long durations in the field. The unique contribution of ethnographers in the social sciences (and their epistemological curse, as well) is to be the very instrument of data recording. They are obliged often to observe by participating, by joining the stream of social action, inevitably affecting it as they record it. Nevertheless, the disadvantages of being the very thermometer in recording social temperature are more often outweighed by the ability to get next to the source of the heat. Many ethnographers are profoundly transformed by this experience, especially if they have done their job right.

In this data-gathering enterprise we seek to record behavior directly pertinent to the most fundamental enterprise of descriptive demography. Our restricted intent is not to explain that behavior but only to observe it and perhaps associated behaviors like resource use that might assist in explanation. Some care needs to be exercised in cooperative enterprises in which the ethnographer provides the facts, while the demographer uses them in explanation. Anthropologists are unlikely to accept the role of gopher quietly, and those who would are probably not the best anthropologists. Indeed, the time for initial cooperation is in the planning stages of the research, and the execution of cooperation is best continuous and cyclical. For example, ethnographic information is essential to the framing of survey questions, but some survey work is essential to the selection of the location of ethnographic work and the selection of informants to achieve representativeness. Thus, waves of ethnographic and survey-analytic work should alternate in an ideal research enterprise.

There are two parts to providing good data. The first is to discover those behaviors in a population that might alter demographic results in unexpected ways. For example, we might discover that some members of a population were addicted to inhalation of the smoke of a noxious weed that seriously increased their mortality. Or we might discover that some females married a mythical being, living in spiritual but not corporeal union with Him, so that their observed fertility was lower than that of women otherwise married in the population. The ordinary observer, unaccustomed to the collection of exotic minutiae, might not observe these phenomena and would thus be less able to explain the demographic heterogeneity resulting therefrom.

The second part is to ask whether we can believe what we observe, whether there are behaviors in the population that affect not the pattern of demographic events but affect our knowing of those events. For example, we might not realize that in some populations and under some circumstances, there was a distinct tendency for people to report a much lower income than they actually enjoyed, while in others the reverse might be true. The reporting behavior does not affect the income, but only our knowledge of it. We might also ask whether the familiar furniture of our own minds prevents us from seeing relationships in the data that would be clear to the actors or to a different investigator who was cursed with a different set of furniture. For example, we might in some census count only people who spent the previous night at a particular address, since normal people who live in normal households come home at night. The U.S. Bureau of the Census is still struggling with that problem.

What we present is a series of hopefully thought-provoking examples. They are anything but exhaustive, only exemplary. They should serve as a source of humility for the ethnographers and as a clear statement to the demographers of caveat emptor. Some of what we offer is based in personal observation, the rest is drawn from published ethnographic sources, among which is that classic of armchair ethnography, The Golden Bough (Frazer 1922). Behaviors that Change the Demography The list of behaviors that introduce demographic heterogeneity into a population is of course almost limitless. In what might be called ethnoepidemiology there are innumerable risk factors that may affect morbidity and mortality, and many of these may be gender-based, rooted in the sexual division of labor and in the treatment accorded to individuals of different sex.

In the study of AIDS in urban America, a good deal of emphasis was placed originally on male homosexuals, resulting in more than the ordinary stigmatization of an STD. If AIDS had been transmitted only through homosexual contact the epidemic would have been self-limiting and resolutely ignored by the policy makers. It broke out of the homosexual population through bisexual behavior and needle-sharing among drug users. Heterosexual transmission was acknowledged, and emphasis placed on female (and sometimes male) prostitutes as the primary vectors spreading the disease to male clients. The prevalence of AIDS as a heterosexually transmitted disease within the sanctity of marriage was first noted in Africa, where prostitutes probably served as the primary vectors in infecting the male heterosexual population, but where AIDS may have been long endemic at low levels. In LDCs where needle use is low but prostitution often rampant, this transmission route is very important. In MDCs where needle use is high, it may not be as important as needle sharing. But wherever prostitution is a factor, it is interesting that the behavior of men outside the brothel is largely ignored in policy action.[13] Emphasis is on getting men to use condoms in having sex with prostitutes, not on using condoms when having sex with their wives, or in not having sex with prostitutes at all. Thus, there is a large segment of the adult population (approximately half in most LDCs), namely married women, whose own behavior does not place them at risk; rather it is the behavior of their husbands that places them at risk. Not to understand this is not to understand the epidemiology of AIDS or its demographic consequences. Not to develop a john-based strategy leads to misguided policy and ineffective intervention. The mistake is doubtless related to the cultural perceptions of the men who control such policy. After all, boys will be boys.[14]

Similar examples could be adduced in the important area of infant and child mortality, where heterogeneity of maternal competence within or between societies can lead to major differences. We can point to the sometimes contradictory effects of maternal education often observed in survey results, the ethnographic work of Scrimshaw (1978) and Das Gupta (1990) that concentrates on instrumental competence, or that of Nancy Scheper-Hughes (1985, 1992) that finds a phenomenon of hopelessness she sees rooted in larger political and economic structures.

In the area of fertility, Nag (1962) has claimed that very early marriage may reduce total fecundity, rather than increasing it, through longer exposure to risk of pregnancy. He argues that stillbirths and miscarriages are more common in the pregnancies of very young women, and that damage to the reproductive organs may result from such events, depressing fecundability and fertility. He has also noted (1980) that a number of factors involved in "modernization", such as the introduction of bottle-feeding, may increase fecundability. Gordon (1991) observes that female genital mutilation in Egypt, being illegal, is widespread but concealed, leading to genital infection, infertility, and death in childbirth (see also James 1994, Kopelman 1994). Female genital mutilation is widespread in Africa; its abandonment with modernization may increase fertility by decreasing female morbidity. It has also been surmised that female infibulation, which can make vaginal intercourse painful, may encourage anal intercourse, which involves more frequent rupture of tissue, and thus encourages the spread of AIDS. The effects of botched clandestine abortions on subsequent fertility are well known and are an unintended consequence of social policies that must be considered in comparative analysis. Similarly, the effects of endemic STD on fertility must also be taken into account (Caldwell and Caldwell 1983, Howell 1979, Whiting, Burbank and Ratner 1986). 

Male genital mutilation, ranging from circumcision to subincision, or the use of penis rings or inserts, may have an effect on fertility. It has been claimed that circumcision is associated with lower rates of penile infection and vaginal cancer. Himes (1970 [1936]) comments that Australian subincision was not intended as a form of fertility control and probably had no effect. Segal (1972) and Basedow (1927) report further on Australian subincision. Brown, Edwards and Moore (1988) survey the incidence of penis inserts and rings in Southeast Asia with comparative data from southern India, classical antiquity, and European history. These authors claim that male infibulation was used as a form of birth control by inhibiting coitus, to prevent sexual access by slaves to females of their owners, or to prevent masturbation. The explanation for their use in Southeast Asia is the enhancement of female sexual pleasure, but no female witnesses are known to have pronounced on this interpretation. The present authors would imagine Chinese influence, citing the Golden Lotus as an authority (Hsiao-hsiao-sheng 1939, but cf. Brown, Edwards and Moore for suggestions of reverse diffusion). Dalton (1837) claims that almost all the Dyak men of Borneo were infibulated and that a third suffered serious consequences, including death from tetanus. Block (1887) confirms some of Dalton's observations but disputes his data on resulting mortality. Gaffron (1859) suggests that the use of penis inserts in western Borneo may render women infertile. Grubauer (1913) supports Dalton with his observations in Sulawesi. Hovorka (1894) provides an elaborate, illustrated compendium covering classical antiquity and ethnography. Kobak (1970) comments on Alzina's observations in the Philippines in 1868, noting that men might use a penis insert with sharpened points to punish a woman. Kuhlewein (1930) reports an intensive medical survey in Borneo, in which up to 95 percent of men in various tribes were infibulated, leading to inflammation of the urethra, but no apparent consequences for fertility. Morga (1906 [1609]) observes that penis inserts worn by the Pinados of the Philippines cause much bleeding, but does not say to whom. To allay any notion that such practices are restricted to socalled primitive peoples, we refer the reader to Buhrich (1983) who documents infibulation and other forms of piercing in modern Los Angeles.

Apart from Mayer's assertion (1877) that southern Bornean penis pins cause sterility by inducing insensitivity, the literature is almost silent on what any demographer would wonder about, namely the probable laceration of the vagina by penis pins, consequent inflammation and infection and especially the enhanced spread of STDs, and resulting secondary sterility.

With regard to nuptiality, many authors (e.g., Dumont 1970 on India and Trumbach 1978 on preindustrial Europe, inter alios) have noted important variations in age at marriage of men and women according to wealth, social standing, and the kinds of prestations that accompany marriage. Analyses of nuptiality that ignore such heterogeneity and its sources yield only meaningless averages and do not reveal the underlying behaviors, or to coin a phrase, M&ms that melt in your analysis.[15]

Variations in adult management of and adolescent conduct of sexual behavior may induce differences in the likelihood of or the age at marriage within and between societies. Gordon (1991) notes that in Egypt unmarried pregnant women often commit suicide or are murdered by family members, and we would expect such phenomena, or commitment to a life of prostitution, in societies in which female chastity at marriage was a paramount concern. The most fecundable women may thereby be removed from the legitimate marriage market. Most Near Eastern societies and segments of European society exhibit such anxiety, as do rural Haitians, who couple their disapproval of pregnancy with a tolerant attitude toward adolescent sexuality (Herksovits 1971). By contrast, the Hopi of Arizona supervise their adolescent daughters closely but have a casual attitude toward any pregnancies (Schlegel 1975), as do the Papago toward a class of "playful" women (Underhill 1936). Among the Ijo of Nigeria some men prefer to marry women already proven to be fertile (Hollos and Leis 1986). Similar instances are known from some peasant cultures of Europe, in which cohabitation was initiated but not formalized until pregnancy. Such practices could easily lead to earlier marriage for more fecundable women, increasing their exposure and thus their total fertility, and introducing a particular heterogeneity in the data. This effect is the reverse of what one might expect in the Egyptian example just noted.

Sexual abuse may also play a role in nuptial mechanics. Women abused in youth by family members but living in a society that demands virginity at marriage and especially proof thereof on the wedding night may be unmarriageable by anticipation, or may be rejected by their husbands. Women who have been raped by anyone may not be able to marry or may be cast out if already married. Even absent these extreme effects, conjugal behavior may be affected, either because of psychological trauma to the woman that leads her to avoid sexual relations, or because of culturally induced psychological trauma to the husband, who may be unwilling or unable to engage further or often in such relations with that woman (the spoiled-goods syndrome). Korbin (1987), deMause (1961), and Schlegel and Barry (1991) review some of the cross-cultural evidence on incest and child sexual abuse. 

Apart from the most extreme examples we know rather little of the demographic effects of extrainstitutional or even of institutionalized punitive sexuality. Institutionalized punitive sexuality should not be ignored. War rape and its effects are not, to our knowledge, treated anywhere in the historical demographic literature, yet if rape is a restraint on conjugal relations, war must induce temporal fluctuations in fertility in at least some societies, beyond those attributable to spousal separation. Punitive rape is not unknown, but its demographic effects are. Gregor (1985) reports institutionalized punitive rape for the Mehinaku of central Brazil, as do Murphy and Murphy for the Mundurucu (1974). The phenomenon of men raping their female companions as an alternative or in addition to beating them up in the United States is not unknown, either, and the psychological effects of such behavior are beginning to be known. Ritual rape of a non-punitive kind is also known. Serpenti (1977) observes that in some New Guinea groups, women or girls are seized and gang-raped by 10-15 men solely to serve as vessels for semen, which is then re-collected from the woman's vagina and used medicinally, but does not report what the consequences are for nuptiality. The classic American fraternity gang-bang is another kind of institutionalized rape with important psychological and behavioral consequences. 

Psychological and physiological inhibitors to fertility are too numerous to highlight here, but one should expect non-random distributions across populations. To hint at the complexities we note Wulfften's (1936) analysis of the distribution of penis pins in southeast Asia, in which he proposes that these objects originated as an antidote to koro, the psychiatric disease in which a man fears his penis will withdraw inside the body and cause death. If there are social heterogeneities in such behaviors, within or across societies, we are obliged to take them into account in demographic analysis. For example, computing a total fertility rate for a population in which a substantial proportion of women have been forced into or who have fled into prostitution, or who are otherwise excluded from or who participate minimally in conjugal relations simply distorts the evidence. Demographers who have long depended on the universality of marriage are beginning to understand that that institution is a swamp. Factors that Affect our Knowledge of Demographic Events None of the points made thus far would surprise most observers, who would agree that the ferreting out of important covariates, whether obtained through ethnography or blind luck in casting the survey net, was an important part of the research enterprise. More intriguing, however, are factors that affect our knowledge of events rather than the patterns of the events themselves. Demographers are of course very familiar with this problem under the rubric of bias or misreporting. Much attention has been devoted to the phenomenon of age misreporting and its sources in illiteracy, innumeracy, and so on. Yet there are more obscure sources of bias.

In a number of societies it is tabu to mention the dead, or through various social and ceremonial mechanisms their memory has been obliterated. It would be remarkably difficult to collect mortality data under such circumstances. Frazer (1922) provides an extensive catalog of this practice from classical antiquity to the ethnographic present. Opler (1936) reports that among the Apache the memory of the deceased is banished after ritual public expression of grief. The literature suggests that naming the dead may be tabu especially among a number of North American Indian groups. 

In some societies a newborn child is named after a person recently deceased (Bloch and Perry 1982). Data collection through genealogical methods would present the same problems encountered in historical demography, in which such practices may also affect the quality of data and the ability to link records. Mandelbaum (1965) describes Kota dual funeral ceremonies. There are two such funerals for any male death, separated by whatever span elapses between the actual date of death and the end-of-year burial ceremony for all persons who died that year. A widow's pregnancy occurring between the death of her husband and her first menstruation after the end-of-year ceremony is attributed to the agency of the dead husband. Similar problems arise through name changes, familiar to us in European society when women change names on marriage. Not so well known are name changes in other societies contingent on supernatural experiences, or through the custom of teknonymy, in which a parent is named after one or another of his or her children.

Since socalled "primitive sexuality" has always been a focus of anthropological inquiry, especially of Victorian anthropologists, the literature is replete with discussion of premarital and extramarital sexual activity. Interesting problems arise in the attribution of paternity, as in the Kota example just given. Gaulin, Steven and Schlegel (1980) report that in only half of the societies surveyed in a sample from the Human Relations Area Files was there high confidence in paternity. While the African literature is generally unanimous that the social father of a child is the woman's husband, no matter who the genitor, Gough (1961) reports that among the Nayar of central Kerala it is the woman's current lover rather than her official husband who is regarded as the social father (again, no matter who the genitor); the Nayar are of course unique in their matrilineality and extreme duolocal residence, with household management in the hands of the senior brother of a group of co-residing married sisters who consort with their lovers rather than with their husbands.

In aboriginal Australia, kinship connections establish marriageability in quite strict regimes of marital exchange and alliance. Yet they are often coupled with extreme age differences between spouses that lead to frequent adulterous relations between young wives and bachelor males (Hart and Pilling 1960). While the Tiwi husbands in this example are jealous to the point of homicide, among the pastoral Hima of Africa, a wife who does not give sexual favors to her husband's friends is regarded as churlish and is reprimanded by her husband (Elam 1973). Similar examples exist for the Eskimo (Freuchen 1961, Friedl 1983). A classic case in the literature is from polyandrous Tibet, where Prince Peter (1963) reports that paternity is attributed to the elder brother of a group of men jointly married to one woman. Calculating male fertility rates in such groups is thus a tricky enterprise.

Among some African societies, e.g. the Nuer (Evans-Pritchard 1951), women may be married to ghosts who are the recognized jural fathers of their children, or women may be married to other women who produce children of their lovers, and such children have the female husband of their mother as their father. Among the Serbs, women with impotent or serologically incompatible husbands could legitimately demand sexual services of the local Orthodox priest, and their children would be filiated to the mother's husband (Filipovic 1982).

We may also note in this connection the reported influence of the Hadith (the reported sayings of the Prophet) that governs strict Muslim behavior, including sexual relations. According to the Hadith, intercourse is to be carried out fully clothed and in the dark (the Orthodox Jewish rules are the same). Some ethnographic and medical evidence suggests that under these conditions penetration can be either uncertain or erroneous, with consequent declines in what might be expected from the Bongaarts model.

Even in the absence of uncertain paternity, the answer to the question, "Whose child is this?" is not always obvious. Child abandonment is an ubiquitous phenomenon, clearly known in MDCs today, historically known at high levels in countries such as the United States, England, Italy and France in the 18th and 19th centuries, and rampant in some LDCs both historically and now, especially in the selling of daughters (Scheper-Hughes 1987, Boswell 1989, Kertzer 1993). Such children are unlikely to be reported in fertility surveys, and they may be hard to find in censuses, so that even crude measures of fertility dependent on ratios of age groups will be biased.[16]

Absent these extreme effects, attribution of parentage can be uncertain through adoption or fosterage. Highly developed systems of fosterage are well known from Africa (Bledsoe 1990, Caldwell 1977, Etienne 1983, Goody 1992), where they serve not only to confuse the field demographer but also to average the costs and benefits of childbearing across households and to permit competition for the control of children and their contributions. Silk (1987) documents fosterage more broadly. Townsend (this volume) usefully deconstructs the idea of parentage in a manner analogous to the classical separation by British social anthropologists of the functions of marriage into different kinds of rights and duties (see below). In his decomposition, not only is an individual foster child the locus of different rights and duties, and not only can that foster child be located in different households at different times, but the different rights and duties can be located in different households at the same time and over time.

Marriage is a particularly difficult process to analyze, in itself and for its role in the analysis of fertility. Anthropologists generally agree that marriage is an institution or process that legitimizes rights of mutual sexual access, rights of access to spousal labor and other forms of support, and rights of paternity. Of course, most of the literature focuses on the rights of men in uxorem and in genetricem, but women have corresponding rights in the prevailing institution of marriage as to whom to expect in their bed and who will put food on the table.

Granting even this insight, analyses involving marriage are problematic because although usually regarded as an institution or a relationship, marriage is a process. Marriage is, as Clemenceau said of war with respect to diplomacy, a continuation of courtship. The various rights which it entails are invoked at different point in the process in different societies and indeed within societies. For example, access to a spouse's labor and material resources begins in some societies with engagement, since at that point those resources are committed. Thus, dowry accumulation is committed, as are the future husband's savings. In days more prudish than the present in our own society, intercourse was sometimes thought permissible if a couple were engaged to be married -- at least that is what the boys said -- while the girl and most likely the parents of both might have insisted on marriage first, unless the strategy were to use a pregnancy to ensure a marriage.

Marriage in absentia is likely to upset calculation of marital fertility rates if the official date of marriage is taken literally. This is not a problem only of obscure and exotic societies. In today's world, with millions of refugees, one often finds marriage contracted across thousands of miles of separation, in anticipation of ultimate coresidence, which may not be realized for years.

Sexual access can occur between menarche and subsequent marriage, between marriage and subsequent menarche, or before menarche. For example, in some societies marriage of girls is extremely early, perhaps in order to guard against premarital pregnancy. Among the Chatino of Oaxaca (Greenberg, personal communication cited in Schlegel and Barry 1991), girls marry about age 11, but sexual relations do not begin until menarche is reached. Similar reports are given in the literature for India. Among the Kikuyu, the young sleep in mixed sex dormitories, where the practice of sex without penetration is permitted, a custom not so different from our own traditions (Worthman 1986). Among the Ifugao and Bontoc, there are similar, unsupervised mixed sex dormitories (Barton 1969). The adolescent Muria of central India may elect husbands and wives peculiar to their ghotul (dormitory) lives, different from their betrothed. Interestingly, they claim to avoid pregnancy by changing partners frequently, but should it occur the betrothed male marries the pregnant girl and accepts paternity (Elwin 1968). Among some southern Orthodox Slavs the first part of the marriage ceremony may be separated by some months from the second, and coresidence and conjugal relations may be legitimized just by the first part. In a number of African societies, the various rights in a woman acquired by her husband are granted seriatim as the installments of the bride price are paid. The range of behavior cross-culturally in these respects is very wide (Whiting, Burbank and Ratner 1986).

What, then, does "marriage" mean to a demographer? Certainly one should not begin to calculate the risk period for fertility calculations with marriage when marriage begins before menarche. Conversely, one ought not to start that risk period with marriage when legitimate sexual access begins before some ceremonial recognition of the union. Demographers have also had difficulty in dealing with various forms of marriage, as for example in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, where formal and recognized unions are often not celebrated either by civil registry or religious proceedings but simply acknowledged by the community (Blake 1961, Handwerker 1986, 1988). When such unions are begun and ended by consent but not marked by datable ceremonies, the demographer is cast adrift; measurement of fertility rates may only be possible from the date of first or subsequent birth, with consequent left-censoring and selection bias. It is not just the differing implementations of some institution of marriage that causes difficulty in analysis but it is the very idea of marriage as an institution and the imposition of such an institution in foreign context.

Similarly problematic is the notion of household (see Netting et al. 1984 for a broad review). Understanding the difference between households as contemporary residence units and households as units developing over time within their own cycle has been a classic problem in social anthropology (Fischer 1958, Goody 1958, Goodenough 1956, Hammel 1961, 1972, 1980, inter alios) only latterly recognized by historians and demographers. Married children sometimes live with the parents of one or of the other spouse, sometimes with neither, sometimes alternately with both, and sometimes spouses do not coreside at all. The analytic complexity of systems of household formation has seldom been adequately treated (Geoghegan 1969). The concentration of particular functions of production and consumption and of social control within and the exchanges of these between households can only be understood through detailed ethnographic investigation, and the domestic politics of such arrangements are seldom investigated. Zimmerman (1990) for example, shows how interhousehold support for the education of a nephew is a function of traditional South Indian kinship and marriage expectations, in which the nephew ultimately becomes the son-in-law. Demographers, and particularly New Household Economists, err seriously if they impose Western definitions of household in other milieux, notably in polygynous societies. The subject of temporal, cross-sectional, and functional variation in household structure is so vast that we shrink from describing it. Conclusion In this paper we have explored the chances for interdisciplinary bliss that may lie in some union or at least rapprochement between anthropology and demography. We have overlooked larger theoretical issues such as evolutionary theory, ecological adaptation, and the like that might inform the interpretation of demographic analyses and also potential contributions from biological anthropology that might be of assistance.[17] We have concentrated instead on social analysis and ethnography.

The first part of our effort was to examine the historical differences between the two disciplines. Demography is the statistical mechanics of populations and moves from that position only to explain the behavior of social actors. Anthropology is more individualistic. Demography is close to policy, anthropology consciously distant from it and especially antithetical to elite and state positions. Demography is generalizing, much of anthropology (especially in its current state) is particularistic.

The second part of our effort was to consider how concepts of culture fit into the demographic enterprise. We found the elucidation of motivation problematic, so that even when cultural symbols are used to construct such motivations, such motivations might still only proxy the true underlying causes of behavior. We suggest that an alternative is to consider institutions and cultural values as constraints on otherwise inscrutable behavior, or alternatively that completely formalistic descriptions of institutions and behavior might serve prediction as well, although at the expense of intuitive understanding, prediction allowing some reduction of our uncertainty even if Verstehen is unachieved.

Finally, we examined how working ethnographers could help demography. The flying armchair survey of the ethnographic literature is a cautionary tale. There are many things that ethnographers can tell demographers about important heterogeneities in behavior that may induce important heterogeneities in demographic phenomena. The demographers need to be alert to unexpected sources of such differences; all too frequently the typical surveys impose Western cultural definitions of marriage, the household, and gender roles on non-Western behavior. Equally importantly, ethnographers must be alert to the potential demographic results of behaviors that interest ethnographers for entirely different reasons, whether these be the fixation of the marxists or postmodernists on hierarchy and exploitation or the prurience of Victorian comparativists. Most importantly, ethnographers and demographers need to be aware that there are some kinds of facts they cannot discover or that are likely to be biased by the nature of recall or the social conventions governing demographically relevant behavior. The world, as Alice said, is not what it seems.

The intrinsic difficulties of the social sciences are daunting. There can be no pure social science, so that its practitioners cannot escape moral questions. There can be no purely objective research in it, since its practitioners are also members of social systems in which standard answers to many analytic questions are already formed. There can be no simple models of social behavior, since social action is pervaded by emergent properties, and social actors are themselves evaluators and analysts of their own systems. In the observation and recording of data, the effect of the observer on the phenomena observed is likely to be very strong. Conversely, in the intense and long lasting observation that constitute ethnographic fieldwork, the effect of the host society on the observer is likely to be profound. The collection of ethnographic data is difficult and expensive of time, and because few societies are ever studied twice by ethnographers, replication of observation is rare, so that tests of validity are restricted to internal consistency, correspondence with theoretical expectation, and the always risky comparison with results from other times and places.

Nevertheless, the joint enterprise is worth undertaking, if the participants have their eyes wide open. Each should be cognizant of the individuality of the other and understanding of their differences. If we are to progress in the interpretation of population dynamics, there is no choice but for cooperation. To return to the introductory metaphors of this paper, tolerance can be achieved, and love may come later.

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