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Frequency-Dependent Social Transmission and the Interethnic Transfer of Female Genital Modification in the African Diaspora and Indigenous Populations of Colombia

  • Author(s): Ross, Cody T
  • Campi ̃no, Patricia Joyas
  • Winterhalder, Bruce
  • et al.
Abstract

Wepresentaquantitativeaccountbasedonethnographicanddocumentary research of the prevalence of female genital modification (FGMo) in the African dias- pora and indigenous populations of Colombia. We use these data to test hypotheses concerning the cultural evolutionary drivers of costly trait persistence, attenuation, and intergroup transmission. The uptake of FGMo by indigenous populations in Colombia is consistent with frequency-dependent hypotheses for the social transmis- sion of the FGMo trait from the African diaspora population in the period following the era of slavery in Colombia. The prevalence and severity of practices related to FGMo decline with level of sociocultural integration into mainstream Colombian culture. Our results provide empirical support for the cultural evolutionary models proposed by Ross et al. (2015) to describe the transmission dynamics of FGMo and other costly traits. Analysis of costly trait dynamics contributes knowledge useful to applied anthropology and may be of interest in policy design and human rights monitoring in Colombia and elsewhere.

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