December 1, 2010

Plow Cultures v. Hoe Cultures

From a new paper, The Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough (Preliminary) by Alberto Alesina, Paola Giuliano, and Nathan Nunn, we find an ethnographic map of cultures as of, say, 1491, that farmed with plows (red dots) versus those that did not (green dots, which lumps together hunter gatherers, herders, and farmers who used hoes or other means to weed). From Murdock's Ethnographic Atlas (click graph to enlarge):


The subject of the paper is gender roles in the modern world: today, all else being equal, women from old plow cultures are less likely to be employed outside the house than women from hoe cultures, just as women do most of the agricultural work in hoe cultures like sub-Saharan Africa and New Guinea. The authors don't mention this but one example is that in the inner city neighborhoods depicted on The Wire, women hold most of the paying jobs, just as their foremothers did most of the farm work in West Africa.

But the obvious thing that jumps out at you from the map is the high correlation between plowing and level of civilizational accomplishment (at least as measured in impressive ruins and buildings). The Taj Mahal, for example, is found in a plow culture. The ancient and medieval churches of plowing Ethiopia are a lot more impressive than the big pile of loose rocks that is the chief monument of Zimbabwe.

Of course, one causal connection between gender roles and civilizational accomplishment is that you can get more done if men work harder, as they tend to do in plow cultures. We don't think about that today, because we're supposed to think that the big issue is: "Why don't those evil men let women work?" In Africa, however, feminist organizations complain about the opposite problem: How do we get men to do more of the work?

The authors write:
The hypothesis tested in this paper is whether at least part of the current differences in gender role attitudes arose from the historic mode of agricultural production - e.g., plough agriculture, hoe agriculture, shifting agriculture, etc. - which in turn affected the gender division of labor historically and the subsequent evolution of norms about the natural role of women in the family and society. Ester Boserup (1970) originally put forward this hypothesis in her seminal book Woman’s Role in Economic Development. She argued that to understand cross-cultural differences in attitudes about female labor force participation, one needs to reach back into history and examine differences in primitive agricultural technologies. She contrasts shifting cultivation to plough cultivation. With shifting cultivation, which is labor intensive and does not use the plough, women do most of the agricultural work. By contrast, plough cultivation is more capital intensive, but also requires more strength to manipulate the plough and the animals that pull the plough. Therefore, in plough societies men tend to dominate agricultural work, while women primarily engage in home production and other activities that occur within the household. Boserup (1970) writes that plough cultivation “shows a predominantly male labor force. The land is prepared for sowing by men using draught animals, and this. . . leaves little need for weeding the crop, which is usually the women’s task. . . Because village women work less in agriculture, a considerable fraction of them are completely freed from farm work. Sometimes such women perform purely domestic duties, living in seclusion within their own homes only appearing in the street wearing a veil, a phenomenon associated with plough culture and seemingly unknown in regions of shifting cultivation where women do most of the agricultural toil” (Boserup, 1970, pp. 13–14)3. In plough societies, a gender division of labor both in the field and in the family becomes predominant. Because women specialize in work in the domestic domain, the home comes to be seen as the “natural” place for women, rather than outside the home in the fields or in the workforce.
Interestingly enough, Boserup maintains that this division of roles persisted even after a country moved out of agriculture: factory work appears to be avoided by married women in many part of the developing world and there is considerable evidence that this social norm is widely accepted.

You can also get bigger things done if men don't spend most of their energies competing with each other to mate with the most women. Anthropologist Peter Frost blogs at Evo and Proud about traditional societies where women do most of the farm work:
The polygyny rate varies considerably among human populations, being highest (20 to 40% of all sexual unions) in the agricultural societies of sub-Saharan Africa and Papua-New Guinea.

Such high rates have consequences. ...


High-polygyny society = Failed society?

In my last post, I noted that high-polygyny societies remain simple in large part because intense sexual competition keeps them from evolving into more complex entities. The surplus males stir up endless conflict, if only because war provides them with access to women, i.e., through rape and abduction. ...


Urban Africa and the new mating environment

This is not to say that a high-polygyny society cannot evolve into a low-polygyny one. It can, if the material conditions of life change. We see this happening as Africans move off the land and into cities and towns, where women can less easily feed themselves and their children without assistance (1). Urban African men are less likely to be polygynous because it costs them more to provide for a second wife.

This in turn has shifted the pressure of sexual competition from men to women. It is increasingly the woman who must compete to find a mate. Whereas before she only had to work hard at tending her plot of land, she must now invest in her physical appearance, notably by lengthening her hair and bleaching her skin.

This new mating environment is described by Fokuo (2009) with respect to Ghana. Traditionally, Ghanaian women were married off through family mediation and bride price. This situation has changed since World War II and especially since the 1980s. They now largely find mates on their own, and do so in an increasingly competitive market that pressures them to be as sexually attractive as possible. One result has been the spread of skin bleaching:
By the late 1980’s and 1990’s, skin bleaching was no longer practiced by prostitutes. The popular culture of the 1980s praised lighter skin tones. This praise encouraged the spread of skin bleaching across gender lines and throughout all socio-economic classes of women. (Fokuo 2009)

Interviews with Ghanaian women suggest that this practice is driven by a competitive marriage market:
Sometimes if you really want to marry a particular man, you have to bleach.(Interview 14, 2006)

Lighter-skinned women tend to attract more men by virtue of their lightness. So if they are at marrying age they get more men coming to court them earlier and quicker than darker-skinned women. (Interview 16, 2006)

Darker-skinned women look at themselves and realize that they need to bleach to be beautiful. Just so men can call them beautiful. (Interview 17, 2006)
(Fokuo 2009)

This shift to ‘bodily commodification,’ together with the decline of matriarchy, is deplored in the literature. Yet the consequences are not entirely negative. Matriarchy meant that African women bore a very disproportionate share of labor in raising their families, especially physical labor. Today, there is a move toward a more equal balance of parental investment between African men and women. And bodily commodification is perhaps a necessary precondition for much of what we call ‘high culture,’ i.e., the pursuit of the aesthetic.

In the 1960s in Northern cities, higher welfare for single mothers, allowing them to support their children without a husband (a policy that had worked in Sweden for a generation without disaster), appears to have caused a remarkably quick reversion among many poor African-Americans to sub-Saharan cultural tendencies, but without the traditional restraining structures of African village life.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

The link to the big pile of rocks in Zimbabwe is broken [instead we got two links to Ethiopian Architecture].

I'd be curious to see the correct link - thanks.

Anonymous said...

I think you wanted the "loose pile of rocks" link to point to great zimbabwe, not ethiopian arch.

spacejack

anony-mouse said...

Obviously cultures that have their women working outside would be ho' cultures.

(Obviously I'll be the only person making that sort of comment).

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks. It's now fixed.

bjdoubble said...

So does this mean that, given a choice, women prefer a polygynous society? Not only do the poor men compete for their attention but they also benefit from financial support from wealthier men?

Steve Sailer said...

A 20th century building contractor's estimate for what it would take to build Great Zimbabwe without machinery was 200 unskilled men working for a year.

Of course, the disease burden was so high in Africa before modern medicine that it would have taken more men or longer than that.

Anonymous said...

The only hoe culture we have is da ho culture.

Anonymous said...

"inner city neighborhoods"?

You mean "hoe cultures" beget "ho' cultures?"

Dahinda said...

I spent pleanty of time on farms and my father grew up on a farm. From my experience, both men and women were doing most of the work. A farm isn't a place where you plow and pull few weeds and thats that. There is all kinds of work to do. Maybe men did most of the plowing and heavy lifting but the daughters and wives were right behind sowing seeds. Haying, harvesting, milking, puting hay and straw up in the barn, filling graineries, and feeding livestock all involved work that women did right along side men. Older, matriarchal women would cook meals when the haying and harvesting went on but there were women out in the fields then too. I think that most people are so far distanced from agriculture today that they get a idealized sense of what it was. Up until World War 2 most farmers still used livestock for farming and women did their share of the work. When farmers moved to cities, women worked in factories as well. After WW2 there may have been a "Leave it to Beaver" style of division of labor where the husband would work and the wife stayed home and did housework but not before, at least in the working and farming classes.

Luke Lea said...

Plow cultures also correlate to patriarchal states based on conquest and systems of class servitude, which is the origin and basis of all the Old World civilizations. Not sure about Mexico and Peru. The status of women was probably higher in the pre-conquest horticultural societies of the ancient Near East, I suppose because women were the primary bread winners. Thus the greater sexual equality in the West today is more like it was before conquest began. Not sure how any of this relates to sub-Saharan Africa or the Amazon rain forests, but what about the Mayans and Incas? Did they have plows? Or is conquest the more important variable?

ironrailsironweights said...

One reason why "plow culture" women are less likely to work outside the home is the fact that today's Islamic countries are for the most part plow culture.

Peter

SFG said...

Interesting Scandinavia appears to be a hoe culture, if I'm reading that single green dot right. Maybe that's why they're so feminist?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through the links so perhaps this is discussed, but the household becomes a separate and important economic domain in plough cultures, not simply a place for leisure and consumption. In plough cultures, women make cloth. The presence of women at home in cultures descended from plow cultures is not a sign of leisure until the industrial revolution eliminates the economic advantage of home production.

This is a good book covering some of this subject:

http://www.amazon.com/Womens-Work-First-Years-Society/dp/0393313484/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291250382&sr=8-1

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through the links so perhaps this is discussed, but the household becomes a separate and important economic domain in plough cultures, not simply a place for leisure and consumption. In plough cultures, women make cloth. The presence of women at home in cultures descended from plow cultures is not a sign of leisure until the industrial revolution eliminates the economic advantage of home production.

This is a good book covering some of this subject:

http://www.amazon.com/Womens-Work-First-Years-Society/dp/0393313484/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291250382&sr=8-1

Anonymous said...

This is an unusually good post - a big theory and satisfying amounts of suggestive evidence.

Steve Sailer said...

"Interesting Scandinavia appears to be a hoe culture, if I'm reading that single green dot right."

I'm guessing that represents reindeer-herding Lapps.

The two red dots in New England are interesting. Did Squanto plow?

There's one red dot around Zimbabwe -- perhaps the plow provided enough surplus to build some walls?

Henry Canaday said...

The other obvious feature of plow cultures is that, because they can farm the same land over and over, they are able to stay in the same place, so building permanent things, from homes to public buildings, becomes both possible and useful, and they can accumulate things, like tools and written records, which enable further progress.

Chicago said...

Sounds like the authors are trying to raise their profile in the area of gender studies by coming up with a seemingly original angle, a new area of study. It'll make a name for them even if it eventually turns out not to hold water. The theory will probably end up forgotten or in the trash can. Until then people can have wonderful discussions about it at Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

India is very much a plowing culture. Japan, Korea, and south China are also plowing cultures. Other regions of East Asia are more mixed. Any comment on that?

Steve Sailer said...

A lot of the green dots in Southeast Asia are inland hill tribes -- perhaps the Hmongs and the like.

In general, the map is overweighted toward small ethnicities. The Western U.S. is hugely overweighted on this map because early anthropologists like Alfred Kroeber were able to study a huge number of small Indian tribes in the West. As the paper says, plowing cultures tended to be much larger in population than, say, hunter-gathering cultures.

I don't know how the map marks rice paddy cultures. Obviously, male rice farmers work very hard.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of The Wire, here is a great story about the miracle reforms in Baltimore's public schools and the Joel Stein disciple superintendent responsible for them:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/education/02baltimore.html

travis said...

Of course, one causal connection between gender roles and civilizational accomplishment is that you can get more done if men work harder, as they tend to do in plow cultures.

No kidding. Some brave souls finally wised up and got the hell out of there, stated so brillantly in the last lines of the best novel ever written about America:

"But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before."

ricpic said...

At the end of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai the women of the village are shown planting rice in the fields at a pace set by the men beating on drums.

Harmonious Jim said...

So horticulture dominated sub-Saharan Africa (except Ethiopia) and the Americas, while agriculture dominated Eurasia (except for hill tribes here and there). A quick scan of the paper attributes this to geography, namely some crop species being more suited to agri- and others more suited to horti-. Anyone know if this is a solid theory, or just a veil for human IQ differences. After all digging sticks and hoes are a simpler technology than plows, what one would expect to find in less advanced places.

SFG said...

"So does this mean that, given a choice, women prefer a polygynous society? Not only do the poor men compete for their attention but they also benefit from financial support from wealthier men?"

Yup, read Roissy.

Dahlia said...

bjdoubble said...

So does this mean that, given a choice, women prefer a polygynous society? Not only do the poor men compete for their attention but they also benefit from financial support from wealthier men?

Others can answer this much better than me, but in general, women do not. What they get and what they want are two different things born of the natural tension between the opposing desires. A more civilized society is one where women have been "winning" for much longer resulting in men catting around less and building more.

Or look at it another way. The "evil step-mother" could not possibly exist and be so widespread if women naturally preferred polygyny.

BTW, in my farming family, the wives never did outside work, but the children did; there was too much to do inside the home. My grandfather used oxen in Germany (20s), and for some reason, a mule here in the states before tractors came along. My dad said he absolutely despised that mule.

Anonymous said...

Southeast China has a long history of rice farming, which provided them with their surplus resources to invest in setting up educational academies and finance trading operations. The southeasterners went on to see an exceptional number of young men become top imperial exam takers and successful merchants. The southeasterner population represent Farwell to Alms on steroids.

I believe Korea has a long history of rice farming and imperial exam taking too. The Japanese were rice farmers, but adopted the imperial exams only to a limited extent. However, both populations are extremely homogenous and have been genetically isolated long enough for certain alleles to have become widespread.

The Hmong actually have done a lot of rice farming in their past. Maybe, not surprisingly, they have a reputation for being pretty industriousness and family-oriented people. In French Guiana, Hmong refugees have done pretty well as farmers and control 70% of the nation's agriculture.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3498056.stm

Hmong in the Twin City public schools have a pretty good high school graduation rate (~85%), but NAM-level ACT scores.

I think the current socioeconomic attainment levels of different
ethnicities might be explained at least partly through the type of occupations (banker, nomad, rice farmer, herder, etc.) that their ancestors engaged in. A particular occupation may have selected for certain traits or skills over others.

Camlost said...

Speaking of The Wire, here is a great story about the miracle reforms in Baltimore's public schools and the Joel Stein disciple superintendent responsible for them:

ROFLMAO

Did he find a way to raise average IQ in Baltimore public schools by 25 points?

Whenever inner city school systems talk about a sudden "jump" in graduation rates it's usually just due to "creative" record keeping - you've got the fox guarding the hen house when it comes to data.

Down here in Atlanta Public Schools there was a recent 28%+ upsurge in black graduation rates under superintendent Beverly Hall (the same superintendent who is bowing out due to cheating scandals that miraculously boosted test performance in APS.) Yes, APS actually claimed a 30% upsurge in graduation rates over a period of less than two years, and they did it with a straight face.

It was quickly shown that the surge in graduation rates was simply due to administrators listing many students as "transfers" to get them off school rolls, even though there was no evidence that the kids had enrolled anywhere else, and often no information on their current whereabouts.

Steve Sailer said...

There are red spots in MesoAmerica and Peru but I can't tell if they are red dots (aboriginal plows) or red triangles (locals took up plowing after European arrival). The paper talks a little bit about corn being different.

Another thing to keep in mind is population density. If the number of people relative to acre gets high enough, then men have to pull their own weight, too. Central Mexico had plenty of people in 1492, while much of North America didn't.

Whiskey said...

It must be remembered that in Europe, large scale plow agriculture beyond the Occitan was impossible before the Moldboard plow, around 900 AD or so. The soil was too thick. Afterwards, you had a pattern of women working around and outside the home, in handicrafts.

Women in Europe from around 1000 AD onwards always had more freedom than contemporaries in other societies. Yet it was mostly patriarchal, but with far less social control and resources spent guarding women.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Here's an interesting paper along the same lines, arguing that geography (alone) accounts for western dominance over the east.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/10/why-the-west-rules-for-now/

Your thoughts? Could be a good blog post...

Harmonious Jim said...

"There are red spots in MesoAmerica and Peru but I can't tell if they are red dots (aboriginal plows) or red triangles (locals took up plowing after European arrival)."

I enlarged the map by 400% and they are red/orange triangles: "plough existed, but not aboriginal".

So looks like Aztecs & Incas didn't have the plow (or the wheel for that matter) -- which makes their achievements in building civilizations all the more remarkable.

Bilbo Baggins said...

Uh oh. It looks like leftists aren't going to let Peter Jackson get away with an all white cast the second time around!

http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/2010/11/30/racism_the_hobbit

Steve Sailer said...

"Sounds like the authors are trying to raise their profile in the area of gender studies by coming up with a seemingly original angle,"

Nah, the sex implications of female hoe agriculture v. most other forms of agriculture have been understood for about 40 years: c.f. anthropologists Jack Goody and Ester Boserup in the late 1960s.

Anonymous said...

Afterwards, you had a pattern of women working around and outside the home, in handicrafts

Dude, they weren't making lanyards and macrame. It wasn't leisure activity. There wasn't anything BUT "handicrafts."

ben tillman said...

In the 1960s in Northern cities, higher welfare for single mothers, allowing them to support their children without a husband (a policy that had worked in Sweden for a generation without disaster), appears to have caused a remarkably quick reversion among many poor African-Americans to sub-Saharan cultural tendencies, but without the traditional restraining structures of African village life.

Is there anyone here who thinks this was an unintended consequence?

ben tillman said...

Did he find a way to raise average IQ in Baltimore public schools by 25 points?

This is known as "educational alchemy".

Kylie said...

"Steve,

Here's an interesting paper along the same lines, arguing that geography (alone) accounts for western dominance over the east.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/10/why-the-west-rules-for-now/

Your thoughts? Could be a good blog post..."



It was a good blog post. Steve discussed this topic as found in another article by Ian Morris a few weeks ago.

Conspicuous assumption.

DanJ said...

The plow is needed where climate and soil are of a lesser quality. In northern Europe there was a need to farm a larger area, because you could only get one crop a year. You needed the plow, draught animals and a really strong guy to work them.

In most of sub-Saharan Africa climate and soil is far better, you get 3-4 crops a year and can feed your family on a small patch of land using simple tools. It is labour-intensive for sure, but the work is more evenly spread out along the year and requires less brute strength.

Of course, if you work the better soil in the better climate with the more efficient methods, you will get a surplus, but producing a surplus is a novelty in the human experience and as such has not caught on everywhere yet.

BrokenSymmetry said...

At least in Malaysia (and throughout the rest of the Malay archipelago), traditional methods of rice farming required physically back-breaking labour constructing bunds and terraces and ploughing the fields with water buffaloes and hence was masculine-driven. Women and children contributed in nurturing the seedlings and transplanting them to the paddies. One should see the rice terraces of Java, its truly a world wonder and this was able to support high population densities and city level civilization.

On the other hand, the less developed inland tribes (literally, i.e. small nomadic groups) practice slash-and-burn agriculture using a form of hill-rice that was planted by hoeing (due to the unsuitability of the terrain).

The hypothesis seems to be holding up well at least with regard to civilizational attainment, however as afar as I know the division of labour seems more equally distributed. Possibly sub-saharan Africa is unique in this respect?

Anonymous said...

Interesting Scandinavia appears to be a hoe culture, if I'm reading that single green dot right.

I just want to point out that most or at least many of the no-plough groups on that diagram are likely hunters and gatherers rather than hoe gardeners. In Northern HG groups, men do a lot more of the work in terms of gathering food and don't have much time or room for competition, though even in Southern HGs, I understand that men typically provide a lot more calories than local farming societies.

Also, some of those plough cultures aren't really "farmers" as such- the Central Asians and Middle Easterners represented with ploughs are likely to herd a lot more and cultivate less than in East Asia or even Europe (Europeans probably herded more than East Asians or far South Asians). Men did the ploughing when there was cultivation to be done, in these cultures, but there wasn't as much ploughing to be done.

So does this mean that, given a choice, women prefer a polygynous society?

Women probably don't have a strong preference for either (other than societies in which they have choice, but even then). For most of human evolution, humans were mildly polygynous. But their preference is shaped by what works in their society and possibly, probably recent natural selection which is not even in space or time (or even between different groups in the same area). If polygyny is the superior strategy in terms of making babies, then their preference (and the men's) will gradually shift to that over time. It won't be perfect, but everyone will come accept it, even if they feel unhappy about it. If you want to prevent polygyny (for whatever), it's not a good idea to prevent female choice, but to set up conditions where it doesn't work. I think that's tougher to do in a condition of nutritional plentitude and material abundance where male income isn't so important as it is in a more marginal situation where male labour and income is more important.

It must be remembered that in Europe, large scale plow agriculture beyond the Occitan was impossible before the Moldboard plow, around 900 AD or so. The soil was too thick.

The Romano-British, supposedly, were known in Roman times for corn (grain) exports. I have no idea whether these were in large enough quantities to be described as large scale, or even as net exports, but supposedly they did export.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Scandinavia appears to be a hoe culture, if I'm reading that single green dot right.

I just want to point out that most or at least many of the no-plough groups on that diagram are likely hunters and gatherers rather than hoe gardeners. In Northern HG groups, men do a lot more of the work in terms of gathering food and don't have much time or room for competition, though even in Southern HGs, I understand that men typically provide a lot more calories than local farming societies.

Also, some of those plough cultures aren't really "farmers" as such- the Central Asians and Middle Easterners represented with ploughs are likely to herd a lot more and cultivate less than in East Asia or even Europe (Europeans probably herded more than East Asians or far South Asians). Men did the ploughing when there was cultivation to be done, in these cultures, but there wasn't as much ploughing to be done.

So does this mean that, given a choice, women prefer a polygynous society?

Women probably don't have a strong preference for either (other than societies in which they have choice, but even then). For most of human evolution, humans were mildly polygynous. But their preference is shaped by what works in their society and possibly, probably recent natural selection which is not even in space or time (or even between different groups in the same area). If polygyny is the superior strategy in terms of making babies, then their preference (and the men's) will gradually shift to that over time. It won't be perfect, but everyone will come accept it, even if they feel unhappy about it. If you want to prevent polygyny (for whatever), it's not a good idea to prevent female choice, but to set up conditions where it doesn't work. I think that's tougher to do in a condition of nutritional plentitude and material abundance where male income isn't so important as it is in a more marginal situation where male labour and income is more important.

It must be remembered that in Europe, large scale plow agriculture beyond the Occitan was impossible before the Moldboard plow, around 900 AD or so. The soil was too thick.

The Romano-British, supposedly, were known in Roman times for corn (grain) exports. I have no idea whether these were in large enough quantities to be described as large scale, or even as net exports, but supposedly they did export.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Scandinavia appears to be a hoe culture, if I'm reading that single green dot right.

I just want to point out that most or at least many of the no-plough groups on that diagram are likely hunters and gatherers rather than hoe gardeners. In Northern HG groups, men do a lot more of the work in terms of gathering food and don't have much time or room for competition, though even in Southern HGs, I understand that men typically provide a lot more calories than local farming societies.

Also, some of those plough cultures aren't really "farmers" as such- the Central Asians and Middle Easterners represented with ploughs are likely to herd a lot more and cultivate less than in East Asia or even Europe (Europeans probably herded more than East Asians or far South Asians). Men did the ploughing when there was cultivation to be done, in these cultures, but there wasn't as much ploughing to be done.

Anonymous said...

So does this mean that, given a choice, women prefer a polygynous society?

Women probably don't have a strong preference for either (other than societies in which they have choice, but even then). For most of human evolution, humans were mildly polygynous. But their preference is shaped by what works in their society and possibly, probably recent natural selection which is not even in space or time (or even between different groups in the same area). If polygyny is the superior strategy in terms of making babies, then their preference (and the men's) will gradually shift to that over time. It won't be perfect, but everyone will come accept it, even if they feel unhappy about it. If you want to prevent polygyny (for whatever), it's not a good idea to prevent female choice, but to set up conditions where it doesn't work. I think that's tougher to do in a condition of nutritional plentitude and material abundance where male income isn't so important as it is in a more marginal situation where male labour and income is more important.

It must be remembered that in Europe, large scale plow agriculture beyond the Occitan was impossible before the Moldboard plow, around 900 AD or so. The soil was too thick.

The Romano-British, supposedly, were known in Roman times for corn (grain) exports. I have no idea whether these were in large enough quantities to be described as large scale, or even as net exports, but supposedly they did export.

Laban said...

If Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' and 'The Woodlanders' are correct, there were still plenty of women in agricultural jobs in Victorian Britain - not ploughing, admittedly.

That's why pale skin was so prized in the UK until a tan became a sign of wealth (around the 1950s with foreign holidays). Victorian female farmworkers wore broad hats and detachable sleeves down to the wrist. Pale arms were the sign of a lady - someone who didn't have to work outside.

Anonymous said...

Careful with the 'hoe culture' trope Steve.
Now we don't want that misunderstood to mean a nasty 'racist' stereotype.

Lobelia Sacksville-Baggins said...

It looks like leftists aren't going to let Peter Jackson get away with an all white cast the second time around!

Get away with? You think that Salon.com is financing the movie and calling the shots WRT casting?

Anonymous said...

You might find this of interest.

From a U.S. State Dept. cable:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/76763

"The vertical of power, he said, is inapplicable to the Caucasus, a region that Moscow bureaucrats such as PolPred Kozak would never understand. The Caucasus needs to be given the scope to resolve its own problems. But this was not a plug for democracy. Gadzhi told us democracy would always fail in the Caucasus, where the conception of the state is as an extension of the Caucasus family, in which the father’s word is law. “Where is the room for democracy in that?” he asked. [He] paraphrased Hayek: if you run a family as you do a state, you destroy the family. Running a state as you do a family destroys the state: ties of kinship and friendship will always trump the rule of law. Gadzhi’s partner agreed, shaking his head sadly. “That’s a matter for generations to come,” he said."

Anonymous said...

Laban - I think that there is another factor complementing the one you outline.

The fairest, palest girls would have the most opportunity to marry 'up'. Because pale skin is prized over darker skin. The connection to manual work is secondary. Thus, over generations, pale skin would become more characteristic of higher social class.

It seems that pale skin is putat a premium in many cultures. Of course our marxist pals say thats all down to the influence of western cultural norms pervading the world. But it seems like something a bit more fundamental, biological is going on.

Truth said...

"Obviously cultures that have their women working outside would be ho' cultures."

"The only hoe culture we have is da ho culture."

"You mean "hoe cultures" beget "ho' cultures?"

"Careful with the 'hoe culture' trope Steve.
Now we don't want that misunderstood to mean a nasty 'racist' stereotype."

One can never underestimate the creativity / individuality of the HBD sect.

PRCalDude said...

In most of sub-Saharan Africa climate and soil is far better, you get 3-4 crops a year and can feed your family on a small patch of land using simple tools.

Why is SSA mostly starving then without outside (Western) aid?

Anonymous said...

Ah another post by Sailer insinuating just how primitive those Africans and Native American Indians and by extension modern day Hispanics, are. How original!

Charlie said...

You're not the only one to have noticed that Great Zimbabwe is about the beginning and about the end of sub-Saharan Africa's contribution to the world of Interesting Places to Dig. But I think a plow/hoe link is a bit of a stretch, because the "plow people" of the Americas produced a number of substantial stoneworks.

The paucity of archaeological relics is something unique to sub-Saharan Africa, and in fact even Great Zimbabwe can be explained by something the HBDer's will doubtless enjoy: the Jews did it!

http://www.dlmcn.com/anczimb.html

Well, maybe not "the Jews", but a people demonstrably descended, in part, from Jews. The Lembas claim to have built Great Zimbabwe, and according to the linked article, they are still known for being, essentially, rather smarter than their neighbors, but not as smart as the people who build Great Zimbabwe (in the 11th-14th centuries when, presumably, they would have had less Bantu and more Jewish ancestry than now).

Anonymous said...

It's worth considering if secular polygyny (latest incarnation, pua culture) is creating surplus males and thus driving war in American culture.

Hopefully Anonymous
http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com

Laban said...

Anon - "It seems that pale skin is put at a premium in many cultures. Of course our marxist pals say thats all down to the influence of western cultural norms pervading the world. But it seems like something a bit more fundamental, biological is going on."

As a general rule/tendency that seems true - Steve has posted on Peter Frost's work. But culture can override - as in the 30+ years when a tan was fashionable in the UK, because it was a sign of wealth and status.

Dutch Boy said...

Hmmm, so hoe culture makes Hoes?

Kylie said...

Anonymous said..."Ah another post by Sailer insinuating just how primitive those Africans and Native American Indians and by extension modern day Hispanics, are. How original!"

Ah, another post by Anonymous insinuating just how racist those who read Steve Sailer and by extension, all HBDers are. How original!

Anonymous said...

D'nesh D'Souza explained it in his book "The End of Racism". The ancient world was not race conscious. Numidian slaves were valued in Rome because those black skins were so decorative. Otherwise they seemed to assume that all peoples were just about the same except of course for the Greeks whom they thought were particularly clever.

That all changed with the Age of Discovery.

Europeans were shocked with the primitiveness that they found in Africa and Australia.

At least some of them knew about Stone Henge and the ancient European megaliths. All of them knew about Gothic cathedrals and other large complex stone buildings. They were were not prepared for a continent were the inhabitants (Aborigines) had never in fifty thousand years created so much as stone wall. The only sub-Saharan stone structure in Africa was the Great Zimbabwe complex.

Zimbabwe is almost certainly an Arab artifact built by local labor. There are no indigenous earlier structures in the surrounding area and it is not ancient at all. It appears to be an creation in historic times by Arab slave traders who had settlements on the nearby coast.

If this is so then like Australia these people too, never advanced as far as the laying of one rock upon another.

We have had half a millennium now to get over the shock. We have had a lot of time for apologists to fashion relativistic arguments that attempt to narrow that gap. They don't like the term primitive which was how this was described in the fifteenth century.

Nowadays we don't call such differences primitive versus developed we use terms like plow culture versus hoe culture.

Albertosaurus

Svigor said...

D'nesh D'Souza explained it in his book "The End of Racism". The ancient world was not race conscious.

The Egyptians, Hebrews, Arabs, and Romans all showed signs of racial awareness long before the age of discovery. Egyptian art shows a racial caste system. The Old Testament had the curse of Ham (Hell, the OT is the world's pioneering work on ethnocentrism). The Koran has something equivalent, and delineates racial castes and inheritances via the lines of Japheth, Shem, and Ham. Tacitus seemed to recognize the racial differences between Germans and Romans easily enough. I bet if I knew more than a sliver of history I could go on like this for ages.

Obviously, humans didn't get very scientific about it before they got very scientific about much of anything.

Anonymous said...

It'd be interesting to see a geological map overlay, because maybe the correlation to plow versus hoe has more to do with the difficulty of tilling rockier versus sandier soils? maybe the type of farming, the type of livestock and the type of agriculture dictated by climate and the type of soil or lack thereof, would give deeper insight into maybe the agricultural/economical resources which might also have affected gender roles?

Anonymous said...

In large areas of Sub saharan West Africa, much of the farming was traditionally done by men (including Most of Nigeria, Ghana, large parts of Mali, Senegal and the general Western Sahel/Savannah region.) This area was ascribed to what some early scholars like Hermann Baumann called the “higher hoe culture” and sociologist/scholar of sociobiology Stephen K. Sanderson calls “intensive horticulture”, intermediate in cultural complexity between primitive hoe cultures/horticulture and advanced plough cultures. In Advanced horticulture, fallow peroids tended to be shorter than in certain other hoe farming regions because of the land’s greater fertility and men have a greater role in farming. Most of Polynesia, parts of Micronesia(and perhaps parts of Papua) had Advanced horticulture as well

The so-called female farming area in Africa, was mainly in Central Africa south from the Congo region. Even there men often had important subsistance roles which varied by ethnic group and location(See the work of the ethno linguist Jan Vansina on early Central African cultures, such as his book, “Paths in the Rainforests” which covers early subsistence), usually clearing the land for planting(clearing is more frequent in places with longer fallow periods), planting seeds/yams, and building and maintaining field fences (also houses and most other structures). They also hunted and fished, which supplied most of the protein. They were usually responsible for tending the oil palm whose oil and palm-wine (and sometime other products) were part of the general diet.
Jane Guyer’s work on the precolonial farming systems of various, Central, and a few West African tribes showed sex roles were fairly complex often with several tasks performed by each sex, and the roles of men in farming usually greater in earlier times.
See:
“Female Farming in Anthropology and African History” by Jane Guyer

http://books.google.com/books?id=GGomG4fhU5gC&pg=PA257&lpg=PA257&dq=female+farming+jane+guyer&source=bl&ots=ysTsujoh4a&sig=m39KUZ0UgrgX9ocNJMJ4vxPHvCE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6hxrUNGFCavh0wGEjYFY&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=female%20farming%20jane%20guyer&f=false


According to Guyer and others, the agricultural role of men in some areas was weakened somewhat in more recent times by the introduction of new crops like cassava, because among other reasons it was considered a womens’ crop, being easier to grow than older crops. Relatively lucrative wage labor in the colonial period also caused men to be away from home for long stretches in some places.