Radical Anthropology Group

Anthropology asks one big question: what does it mean to be human?

If you live in London, why not come to our regular Tuesday evening talks? Admission is free.

Next evening talk

Camilla Power

Laughing At The Gods: Bushman Trickster Tales
Tuesday, January 21, 2020 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

Recently, it has been argued that no truly egalitarian societies exist since even those which appear to show equality in real life still have beliefs in dominant divine forces. In this talk, Camilla Power examines the role of the main supernatural entity of Khoisan Bushman peoples, the 'Trickster’. Denizen of First Creation, Trickster shows repeated characteristics of counter- and reverse dominance. He or she switches between an awesome or cosmic aspect – guarding game animals or bleeding initiates – and a weird, comical figure who is mean, cheating, greedy and lecherous, chopping off bits of the body which then behave extremely badly. Can the diverse versions of Trickster be reconciled and is there any underlying logic to them? A number of Khoisan stories will be narrated and discussed to reveal what they have in common. The Trickster expresses cycles of time and oscillation between periods of taboo and relaxation of taboo.

Recent talks

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