Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

January 31, 2011

British “Asian” subcultures

Filed under: Culture,Identity — Razib Khan @ 3:07 pm

I was talking the other day with my cousin who goes to university in northwest England. He expressed his irritation that people always perceived that he was Muslim, though with the name he sports I can’t blame others too much. I discussed with him some of the perceptions expressed on this weblog, that atheism was very rare among British Pakistanis, but rather more common among Bangladeshis. He agreed with that assessment. He met other Bangladeshi atheists, and plenty of Indians, but no Pakistanis. One aspect which I suspect grates at him is that it is not uncommon for many Muslims to carouse in their youth, so his drinking and conventional dating habits do not mark him as necessarily the non-Muslim that he is. Islam therefore is an identity into which you are born, not a set of beliefs you espouse.

But the youthful hypocrites who engage in behavior relatively indistinguishable from the typical British yob nevertheless notionally hold to Muslim orthopraxy as an ideal, and identify strongly with “team Islam.” This politicization of identity is the main problem for my cousin, because brown and non-brown alike presume his sympathies must be with his social-political team. But, as a non-Sylheti Bangladeshi Briton he is already twice-marginal when it comes to the “Asian Muslim” identity. Additionally, he also identifies most strongly in his politics with the conventional Leftism of Old Labor, combined with a mainstream social liberalism identical to other young British people (e.g., he argues for gay marriage to his Muslim parents). But these significant and substantive beliefs and ideas are subsumed by the exterior perception that he is a Muslim, with Muslim priorities and preconceptions defined in large part by the Mirpuri subculture of northern England.

Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, USA, attitudes

Filed under: Attitudes,data,WVS — Razib Khan @ 2:47 pm

Some responses culled from WVS. Some of these are giving extreme views with a 1 to 10 category, explaining low proportions. They’re all from wave 4, which was around the year 2000.

Bangladesh India Pakistan USA
Family very important 97 93 93 95
Politics very important 20 19 5 16
Work very important 92 78 61 54
Religion very important 88 57 82 57
Would not like neighbors of different race 72 42 7 8
Would not like homosexuals as neighbors 95 71 100 77
Would not like people of a different religion as neighbors 34 60 8.4 -
Total satisfied with life (10 out of 10 on scale) 10 10 0 16
Men have more right to jobs than women 68 57 67 10
Natives have more rights to jobs 92 85 57 49
% who say 2 children “ideal” 80 60 33 28
% who say 4 or more ideal 1 10 25 17
God very important (10 out of 10 on scale) 94 - 100 58
A religious person 97 80 91 83
Believe in God 99.5 95 100 95
Religious institutions give answers to moral problems 62 33 62 58
Agree strongly that politicians who don’t believe in God unfit for office 32 19 82 18
Justifiable to claim gov. benefits unethically 2 8 0 2
Justifiable to avoid paying fair 1 6 0 1
Homosexual justifiable 0 18 0 14
Abortion always justifiable 1 11 0 8


Brown people and personal genomics

Filed under: Genetics,HAP,Harappa Ancestry Projec — Razib Khan @ 1:45 pm

Here’s the run down before the first batch of results come out for HAP:

Punjab: 7
Tamil: 4
Iran: 3
Bengal: 2
Andhra Pradesh: 2
Bihar: 1
Anglo-Indian: 1
Roma: 1
Karnataka: 1
Kashmir: 1

Again, vast swaths of the center-north are missing. The lack of Gujaratis isn’t as problematic because the HapMap has them. The HGDP has Pakistani populations, though Zach L. will be gratified that Zack A. is finally doing some more work on Punabis as a whole (not farmers from a particular community). The SVGP has 80 Singapore Indians, who are presumably going to be mostly Tamil. Behar et al. has two low caste groups from Kerala and Tamil Nadu respectively, as well as another group from northern Karnataka which is not specified (as well as Kerala Jewish samples). Finally, the Xing et al. data set has several South Indian groups, as well as Punjabi Arain. Unfortunately due to its peculiar SNP coverage it doesn’t intersect much with the other samples, so it won’t be used much. But note: the massive undersampling of the center-north and eastern India in all of these public data sets. Additionally, it being South Asia, geographic coverage is probably not enough. There is almost certainly a great deal of genetic difference between a tribe in Kerala and the Nasranis.

So here’s the link to 23andMe. It will cost you $260 over the whole year.

Harappa Ancestry Project, t-minus one day

Filed under: Harappa Ancestry Project,Personal genomics — Razib Khan @ 12:57 pm

Zack is going to post the first batch of results from HAP tomorrow. It looks like he’s going to be using mostly the merged HGDP, HapMap, SVGP, and Behar data set, supplemented by a second set which also merges the Xing et al. sample (the intersection of Xing et al. with the other results is a much smaller number of SNPs, but, it includes a better coverage of various South Asian groups). He’ll initially be posting ADMIXTURE estimates as you’ve seen on Dodecad. I’m especially interested in the Anglo-Indian and Roma individuals which have sent Zack their samples. I don’t know of any genomic investigation of the former community, while the published research on Roma genetics doesn’t include SNP-chip results (usually they’re mtDNA, Y, or only a few autosomal markers). I’d be curious for possible evidence of homozygosity or linkage disequilibrium in the Roma individual due to the population bottlenecks which other studies have detected (I assume that’ll be in the future). The Roma are to a good approximation an admixture of India, West Asia, and European (often Balkan) groups, but, their history of endogamy and ...

Where are the Brahmins?

Filed under: Caste — Razib Khan @ 10:35 am

On related note, Business Class Rises in Ashes of Caste System. I have a friend who is of the Nadar caste mentioned. His father is a chemist in San Diego. Unfortunately for him he’s very inbred due to marriage customs in his family’s community, something he wants to change in the next generation.

What do the people think?

With all the geopolitical tumult and news I was a bit curious to see what The World Values Survey could tell us about public opinion in Egypt and Tunisia. Unfortunately, Tunisia hasn’t been in any of their surveys, though Egypt has. So I thought it might be interesting to compare the USA, Sweden, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq, for wave 5, which occurred in the mid-2000s. The main thing I took away from the exercise is to reflect that Americans are a more equivocal people than I had expected. Many of the questions have a 1 to 10 scale, and I’m providing the most extreme answers. So the low fractions for Americans for some questions point to a relative moderation on some topics…which is kind of weird when you are asking whether “People choosing their leaders is an essential characteristic of democracy.” Since that’s the definition of democracy broadly construed anything below a 10 out of 10 seems strange to me.

(Control + should increase font-size if it is too small)

USA Sweden Turkey Egypt Iraq Religion “very important” 47 9 75 95 96 Politics “very important” 11 16 13 9 37 Family life “very important” 95 92 99 98 96 Most people can be trusted 39 68 5 19 41 Satisfied with life (10 out of 10) 7 12 21 11 3 Great deal of control of life (10 out of 10) 17 16 24 14 9 Men have more ...

Around the Web – January 31st, 2011

Filed under: Blog,Daily Data Dump — Razib Khan @ 12:16 am

The first month of 2011 is almost over….

Exiled Islamist Leader Returns to Tunisia. “…while Ennahdha was branded an Islamic terrorist group by Ben Ali, it is considered moderate by scholars.” I remember talking to a gay friend after 9/11 about Islam, and he began to repeat the pablum about how most Muslims were moderate and tolerant. I had to disabuse him of the notion that they would be as tolerant of him as the Christians at the local Congregationalist church. One can be moderate, but if the scale is set at one end of the broader distribution, that moderation can be quite extreme from the vantage point of an outsider. So a recent survey of British Muslims found that 0 out of 500 would accede to the position that homosexuality was morally acceptable. Certainly within the set of 500 there were many moderates on the issue, but the center of the distribution would probably not be what we’d consider “gay-friendly” (it might in fact be tolerance in a more pre-modern sense, where the majority suffers that the minority may exist, so long as they do not become undue burdens or flout public mores).

Selection is random. I don’t ...

January 29, 2011

The archaeogenetics of Bengal

Filed under: Bangladesh,Genetics,History — Razib Khan @ 3:22 pm

Over at Gene Expression I have a very long piece, “Asian” in all the right places, which interprets my most recent batch of 23andMe results. Additionally, I use these results to generate some inferences about the population history of eastern Bengal (now Bangladesh).

“Asian” in all the right places

mtDNA haplogroup G1a2

The pith: In this post I examine the most recent results from 23andMe for my family in the context of familial and regional (Bengal) history. I also use these results to offer up a framework for the ethnognesis of the eastern Bengali people within the last 1,000 years, and their relationship to other South Asian and Southeast Asian populations.

Since I received my 23andMe results last May I’ve been blogging about it a fair amount. In a recent post I inferred that perhaps I had a recent ancestor who was an ethnic Burman or some related group. My reasoning was that this explained a pattern of elevated matches on chromosomal segments with populations from southwest China in the HGDP data set. But now we have more than my genome to go on. This week I got the first V3 chip results from a sibling. And finally, yesterday the results from my parents came in. One thing that I immediately found interesting was my father’s mtDNA haplogroup assignment, G1a2. This came from his maternal grandmother, and as you can see it has a distribution which ...

January 28, 2011

Friday Fluff – January 28th, 2011

Filed under: Blog,Daily Data Dump,Friday Fluff — Razib Khan @ 3:30 pm


1) First, a post from the past: Theological incorrectness – when people behave how they shouldn’t….sort of .

2) Weird search query of the week: “khoikhoi woman in porn.” I had a suspicion I knew who entered this search query, but it came from Kumasi, Ghana. So unless a certain someone is doing fieldwork, I guess not.

3) Comment of the week, in response to Portlandia:

Razib, is this post locally grown? And I know it’s organic but is it *certified* organic?

4) And finally, your weekly fluff fix:

Democracy, the god of our age

Filed under: Democracy,Multiculturalism,Populism — Razib Khan @ 1:25 pm

I have a post up at Secular Right which expresses some cynical skepticism about the popular revolutions in North Africa. I’m especially skeptical of Egypt, though I would be happy to be proven wrong by history. Democratic governance is better than the alternatives, all things equal, but all things are not equal. Tunisia is in many ways a more “Western” society than Egypt, so I have more hope that a conventional Western form of governance in liberal democratic form will emerge there. Additionally, unlike Egypt Tunisia has no minorities to oppress.

Because of the power of democralotry in the American mind we often can’t conceive of the possibility that populism abroad may not shake out in a direction conducive to our own “national interests.” Or, further other values which we putatively cherish, such as individual liberty and tolerance of dissent and diversity. But it is no coincidence that we were founded a republic, and not a democracy.

Formatting the blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 12:37 pm

I’ve been tweaking with things. If you are reading via RSS, you should not notice anything. But I apologize in advance when/if I break things (already had to “roll back”). Thanks

Harappa Ancestry Project, before the first wave

Zack has been posting his data sources, as well as how he filtered and formatted them, all this week. I assume that the first wave of results will be online soon. As of yesterday, this is what he had (I know he got some more today):

- Punjab 7
- Bengal 1
- Bihar 1
- Tamil 5
- Karnataka 1
- Anglo-Indian 1
- Roma 1
- Iran 3

Whole swaths of north-central India are missing. I am hopeful that more people will join in after the first wave of results are put out there. But, from what I have discussed with Zack it looks plausible that the very first wave will have a richer set of results because of the necessity of preliminary steps. So there’s some benefit in getting early. It’s really ridiculous to have literally 1 sample representing the 300 million people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. That’s 25% of South Asians represent by one person. I’ve gotten a commitment from one friend who was born U.P. to give his data up once it comes in, but there have to be others out there. (the Bengali N should go up to 2 when I swap my parents ...

Harappa Ancestry Project, before the first wave

Zack has been posting his data sources, as well as how he filtered and formatted them, all this week. I assume that the first wave of results will be online soon. As of yesterday, this is what he had (I know he got some more today):

- Punjab 7
- Bengal 1
- Bihar 1
- Tamil 5
- Karnataka 1
- Anglo-Indian 1
- Roma 1
- Iran 3

Whole swaths of north-central India are missing. I am hopeful that more people will join in after the first wave of results are put out there. But, from what I have discussed with Zack it looks plausible that the very first wave will have a richer set of results because of the necessity of preliminary steps. So there’s some benefit in getting early. It’s really ridiculous to have literally 1 sample representing the 300 million people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. That’s 25% of South Asians represented by one person. I’ve gotten a commitment from one friend who was born U.P. to give his data up once it comes in, but there have to be others out there. (the Bengali N should go up to 2 when I swap my parents ...

Books on Indian history

Filed under: History — Razib Khan @ 1:50 am

Any recommendations?

Here are some I have found of interest:

- Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300. The author has been vilified by Hindu nationalists. I don’t know her politics, but I found her work illuminating, if sometimes disputable in the details.

- India: A History. This is a popular work, and those with a more scholarly bent may not find it satisfying. But it is serviceable for the general audience.

- The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity. By Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen. Less straight history than a personal perspective by a renaissance man.

- Gem in the Lotus: The Seeding of Indian Civilisation. This author was often shallow in my opinion, but his perspective was still interesting to me as an American.

- The Peacock Throne: The Drama of Mogul India. An older work, but I much enjoyed it. A touch on the narrative ‘wars & politics’ end of the spectrum for me though.

A ‘leaky’ model

John Farrell pointed me to this Anne Gibbons’ piece, A New View Of the Birth of Homo sapiens. Here’s some interesting passages:

The new picture most resembles so-called assimilation models, which got relatively little attention over the years. “This means so much,” says Fred Smith of Illinois State University in Normal, who proposed such a model. “I just thought ‘Hallelujah! No matter what anybody else says, I was as close to correct as anybody.’ ”

But the genomic data don’t prove the classic multiregionalism model correct either. They suggest only a small amount of interbreeding, presumably at the margins where invading moderns met archaic groups that were the worldwide descendants of H. erectus, the human ancestor that left Africa 1.8 million years ago. “I have lately taken to talking about the best model as replacement with hybridization, … [or] ‘leaky replacement,’ ” says paleogeneticist Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, lead author of the two nuclear genome studies.

I suppose ‘assimilation’ sounds too generic, but ‘leaky replacement’ seems more fitting for a building ‘super’. But it isn’t as if paleoanthropology has a Don Draper, a rogue with a way with words.

Here’s the ...

January 27, 2011

American history in broad strokes

A comment below inquired about “good books” on American history. Unfortunately I don’t know as much about American history as I do about Roman or Chinese history. But over the years there have been several books which I find to have been very value-add in terms of understanding where we are now. In other words, these are works which operate with a broader theoretical framework, and aren’t just a telescope putting a spotlight on a sequence of facts.

Albion’s Seed. I read this in 2004, and it was a page turner.

The Cousins’ Wars. I had thought of Kevin Phillips as a political writer, but this was a very engaging and deep cultural history. My prejudice resulted in my not reading this until 2009.

What Hath God Wrought. This book focuses on the resistance of the Whigs and Greater New England to the cultural ascendancy of the Democrats and their “big-tent” coalition which included most of the South, the Mid-Atlantic, and much of the “Lower North” (e.g., the “butternut” regions of the Midwest settled from the Border South).

The Rise of American Democracy. This is a good compliment to the previous book, in that it takes the “other side,” that of the Democrats. In many ways this is the heir to Arthur Schlesinger’s Age of Jackson.

Throes of Democracy. A somewhat “chattier” book than the previous ones, it is still an informative read. It covers a period of history with the Civil War as its hinge, and so gives one the tail end of the Age of Sectionalism.

Freedom Just Around the Corner. By the same author, but covering a period of history overlapping more with Albion’s Seed.

The Age of Lincoln. This is not a “Civil War book.” It is of broader scope, though since the the war is right in the middle of the period which the book covers it gets some treatment. I’d judge this the “easiest” read so far of the list.

Replenishing the Earth. This is about the Anglo world more generally, but it is nice to plug in America into a more general framework. North America is not sui generis.

The English Civil War. This is obviously not focused on America, but it is a nice complement to Albion’s Seed, as it shows the very deep roots of the division between two of America’s folkways. The Cousins’ Wars serves as a bridge between the two, shifting as it does between both shores of the Atlantic.

I’m game for recommendations! I had a relatively traditional education in American history, and did very well in my advanced courses, but I knew very little before I read books like this.

The scions of Shem?

The media is reporting rather breathlessly a new find out of Arabia which seems to push much further back the presence of anatomically modern humans in this region (more accurately, the archaeology was so sparse that assessments of human habitation seem to have been made in a vacuum due to absence of evidence). Here is the major objection:

This idea is at odds with a proposal advanced by Richard Klein, a paleoanthropologist at Stanford University, that the emergence of some social or behavioral advantage — like the perfection of the faculty for language — was required for modern humans to overcome the surrounding human groups. Some kind of barrier had to be surmounted, it seems, or modern humans could have walked out of Africa 200,000 years ago.

Dr. Klein said that the Uerpmann team’s case for an earlier out-of-Africa expansion was “provocative, but in the absence of human remains, it’s not compelling.

The stone tools of this era are all much alike, and it is hard to tell whether early modern humans or Neanderthals made them. At the sites of Skhul and Qafzeh in what is now Israel, early modern humans were present around 100,000 years ago and Neanderthals at 60,000 years, ...

The “cow belt” is underrepresented in the Harappa Ancestry Project

Filed under: Genetics,Harappa Ancestry Project — Razib Khan @ 12:29 pm

On the Harappa Ancestry Project Zack says:

I have got 17 South Asians and 2 Iranians now. Punjabis and Tamils are well represented.

We definitely need participation from central India, north-central and east India. Uttar Pardesh has 300 million people but no samples so far.

This is a problem with many South Asian genetics surveys: “Aryavarta” is extremely undersampled! I have one friend from U.P. who is waiting on their results, but seriously, it’s ridiculous to have 200 million people represented by one individual!

Neandertal (haplotype) in the family!

There is pretty much a 100% probability that I carry Neandertal origin genes, since I’m Eurasian. That being said, I hadn’t looked too closely into the matter in regards to my own genome, because the whole “which SNPs are Neandertal” issue has been pretty dicey. But after the “Neandertal dystrophin” paper sniffing for whether you carry a specific Neandertal haplotype got a whole lot easier. The authors provided the markers and their associated haplotypes within the paper. So if the B006 haplotye is Neandertal, by looking at your markers in 23andMe through the browse raw data feature you can figure out what your lineage is, and see if you are indeed “Neandertal” on that locus. Since it’s on the X chromosome, males will carry only one copy of the gene. On the other hand, if you’re a woman you’ll have two copies, so ascertaining what specific combination of markers you have spanning a particular genomic segment can be more difficult (the results are not “phased,” so you don’t know if the allele is from the mother or father on any given genotype). But inferring the sequence of markers on a strand of DNA is much easier if ...

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