The cul­tures where kiss­ing doesn’t ex­ist

Central and North Burnett Times - - READ - — Emma Reynolds, news.com.au

IT HAS been decades since any­one ques­tioned the idea that ro­man­tic kiss­ing is a univer­sal hu­man prac­tice.

Yet sweep­ing new re­search from the Univer­sity of Ne­vada’s an­thro­pol­ogy de­part­ment has re­vealed that many cul­tures find the thought of a pash extremely dis­taste­ful.

The Me­hi­naku of Brazil, for ex­am­ple, told one ethno­g­ra­pher that they thought kiss­ing was “gross”, ask­ing why any­one would want to “share their din­ner”.

This isn’t re­ally a sur­pris­ing re­sponse, the ex­perts say, when the pri­mary purpose of mouth-to-mouth con­tact world­wide is for “kiss-feed­ing” from par­ent to child.

Re­searchers Wil­liam Jankowiak, Shelly Volsche and Justin Gar­cia dis­cov­ered that more than half of 168 di­verse cul­tures did not use the ro­man­tic-sex­ual kiss.

“There is a marked ab­sence of kiss­ing in the equa­to­rial and sub-Sa­ha­ran hunter-gath­erer so­ci­eties such as the Hadza, the Turkana, the Maa­sai, and the Yanomamo,” Volsche said.

In fact, it looks as though kiss­ing only evolves where hu­mans de­velop a com­plex so­ci­ety. The “an­ces­tral state” of hu­man sex­u­al­ity, Volsche be­lieves, is a basic mat­ing prac­tice fo­cused on re­pro­duc­tion.

Many so­ci­eties that do not have ro­man­tic kiss­ing use other phys­i­cal ex­pres­sions of en­dear­ment, usu­ally an ex­change of breath or mu­tual sniffing of cheeks and necks.

Par­ents will of­ten kiss chil­dren’s body parts, and peo­ple will use pecks on the cheek or lips as greet­ings, of­ten rit­u­alised to in­di­cate who is the sub­or­di­nate.

The Oceanic Kiss in­volves the pass­ing of open mouths past each other, with no con­tact. It is usu­ally a greet­ing, oc­ca­sion­ally part of the sex­ual reper­toire.

The an­thro­pol­o­gists claim that the con­vic­tion that ro­man­tic kiss­ing is univer­sal dates back to a large body of un­ver­i­fied and un­chal­lenged re­searched from the 1950s and 60s.

Eth­no­cen­trism – where we as­sume other cul­tures are just like ours – is likely to have con­trib­uted to the con­fu­sion as well.

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