Gender and ritual power among African hunter-gatherers




On Tues April 16, at 6:30pm, Camilla Power, for many years Senior Lecturer at University of East London and Research Fellow at University College London, is speaking LIVE @UCLAnthropology, in the Daryll Forde Room (2nd Floor). You can also join on ZOOM (ID 384 186 2174 passcode Wawilak).

Camilla explores the relation of sex and gender among African hunter-gatherers. Egalitarian peoples like San Bushman, Congo Forest hunters and the Hadza of Tanzania have a straightforward sexual division of labour: men hunt; women gather. But gender does not reduce to a masculine/feminine binary. Instead, evidence from Bushman rock art, story and initiation ritual reveals a fluid and mutable gender transformative through time for men and women. Central religious concepts – the Moon, the Eland, Trickster – all show this gender transformation in relation to the lunar cycle. Rather than a hierarchical opposition of masculine over feminine, gender oscillates between a ‘gender of power’ which fuses features of the sexes, and a ‘weak’ gender which disambiguates the biological sexes. Evidence from Central and East African groups is compared.