Past classes

The Anthropology of David Graeber

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20:30
Description

David Graeber's unexpected death on September 2nd this year shocked us all. This evening we will pay tribute to David's astonishingly rich contributions to anthropology and invite discussion of his academic and activist work.

The revolutionary sex

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20:30
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Description

Across species, sexual selection and sexual conflict – where the evolutionary interests of the sexes differ – provide the arena for the evolution of highly elaborate forms of signaling. Sexual conflict models, with complex psychological adaptations to situations of both conflict and cooperation between the sexes, can illuminate the evolution of the human symbolic domain of language, art and ritual.
     This talk centres on sexual strategies and counter-strategies – a dynamic arms race between the sexes – as the main engine of the evolution of human cultural cognition and symbolic behaviour. Strategic conflict and cooperation between the sexes intensified as offspring became larger-brained and so more costly to mothers in terms of time and energy required to care for them. Resistance to male dominance and exploitation culminated in a revolutionary outcome – human symbolic culture and communication.

Zoom ID
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Film Showing: ‘The Moon Inside You‘

Description

‘The Moon Inside You‘ is a brilliantly original ethnography of menstruation as experienced by women and perceived by men in our modern world. This is a rare London showing of an extraordinary film, directed by Slovak radical anthropologist Diana Fabianova. Quirky, fast-moving, bubbling with humour and flashes of insight, it follows Diana as she travels the world, trying to find out from school children, scientists, therapists, cab drivers, poets, rappers and men in suits what menstruation really means. The showing will be followed by questions and discussion led by Chris Knight and Camilla Power.

Class syllabus

Lysistrata Decoded

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Camilla Power places Aristophanes' 'Lysistrata' in its classical Athenian historical context, exploring well documented traditions of women-only rituals staged periodically in real life in resistance to male power. Connecting ancient Greek mythical themes with variations found recurrently across the rest of the world, this stunningly original research throws completely new light on Aristophanes' timeless comedy.

Book Launch: ‘Human Origins: Contributions from Social Anthropology’

Description

'Human Origins: Contributions from Social Anthropology' is an exciting new book edited by the all-woman team of Camilla Power, Morna Finnegan and Hilary Callan. Many will see the book as a refreshing development, ending the long-standing absence of social anthropologists from debates about human evolution. Signed copies of the book will be available, plus drinks and refreshments.

Ice Age Art

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Camilla Power has published widely on the origins of art, bringing out the importance of gender relations. She has made a special study of the cave paintings and Venus-figurines of Upper Palaeolithic Europe, asking whether the artists were likely to have been men or women, and whether the recurrent female imagery was intended to represent matriarchal power. She will argue that one interpretive approach is to draw on evidence from the lives and ritual experiences of extant hunter-gatherers such as the Hadza of Tanzania, among whom her fieldwork was conducted.

Why Menstruation Matters

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This talk examines the biological and cultural impact of menstruation in human evolution. It looks into which species menstruate and why this evolved. What effects would highly visible menstruation have on hominin social systems? Why did menstruation become a critical biological signal and how did this affect the emergence of symbolic culture? The widespread distribution of menstrual taboos and observances indicates their great antiquity in human belief systems. Can we offer any predictions about the various forms these take in different societies?

Thursday Workshop Roar for Matriarchy

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This year, RAG has tapped into a huge and growing interest in matriarchal societies. Did matriarchy ever exist? More importantly, can our beautiful planet be rescued from patriarchy and restored to some kind of gender-egalitarian rule? Tonight's meeting will be given over to planning for an International Women's Day event. Beyond that, we will be thinking of Donald Trump's scheduled visit in October, organizing to give him the Matriarchal welcome he deserves...
Steve Bannon has issued a dire warning to US President Donald Trump: "The anti-patriarchy movement is going to dramatically alter the power structure across the world. I think it's going to unfold like the tea party, only bigger," the former White House chief strategist told Bloomberg News. "It's not Me Too. It's not just sexual harassment. It's an anti-patriarchy movement." He added: "Time's up on 10,000 years of recorded history. This is coming. Women are gonna take over. This is real."
OK sisters, let's bring it on.

Chris Knight is 75! the Russian Revolution is 100! Rag Social Evening

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Chris Knight is 75! The Russian Revolution is 100! Celebrate on Saturday Nov 18th, 6.30pm - midnight. Upstairs at The Horseshoe Pub, 24 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0AG (tube Farringdon). Live performers include Dorten Yonder ceilidh band, Jackie Walker (songs from her one-woman show), Chris Gray (Irish rebel songs), Amanda McLean (ballads of socialist resistance). General chorus: The Internationale. Students enjoy free beer until the money runs out... so get there early! Wear something red!

Women, Cosmetics and the Origins of Art

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Description

Camilla Power has published widely on the origins of art, bringing out the importance of gender relations. She has made a special study of the cave paintings and Venus-figurines of Upper Palaeolithic Europe, asking whether the artists were likely to have been men or women, and whether the recurrent female imagery was intended to represent matriarchal power. She will argue that one interpretive approach is to draw on evidence from the lives and ritual experiences of extant hunter-gatherers such as the Hadza of Tanzania, among whom her fieldwork was conducted.

Why Menstruation Matters.

Speaker(s)
Description

This talk examines the biological and cultural impact of menstruation in human evolution. It looks into which species menstruate and why this evolved. What effects would highly visible menstruation have on hominin social systems? Why did menstruation become a critical biological signal and how did this affect the emergence of symbolic culture? The widespread distribution of menstrual taboos and observances indicates their great antiquity in human belief systems. Can we offer any predictions about the various forms these take in different societies?

Lunarchy in the Kingdom of England

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Comedy in the formal dramatic sense has its roots in popular ritual uprising — misrule, especially of a female kind. From Aristophanes to Shakespeare it shares a structure deriving from ancient mythico-ritual syntax. In this talk, Camilla Power will compare the Classical Greek comedy of the sex strike Lysistrata with the Merry Wives of Windsor, a comedy first performed at the Tudor English court on an occasion of royal ritual. Falstaff is revealed in the character of both lunar trickster and presiding native genius of the Kingdom of England.

Myths of the Origins of Fire

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In this talk, Camilla Power examines myths of the origin of fire from African and Australian hunter-gatherers (including Mbuti, Hadza and Yolngu). These share a logic of women's periodic withdrawal of sex and cooking fire. With control of fire goes control over meat/flesh, but this was ultimately stolen from women by men. Can interpretation of these hunter-gatherer materials help us to decode the Greek story of origins of fire (and death) stolen by Prometheus? In this mythic series, we find the same themes of control over fire, meat and access to sex. Prometheus appears in the guise of a hunter-gatherer trickster. But why does he end up chained to a rock with his liver being eaten and regenerating every day? And why does his encounter with Io, transformed into a heifer and ceaselessly pursued by a gadfly, form the main scene of 'Prometheus Bound'?

Gender and Ritual Power Among African Hunter-Gatherers

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Description

In this talk, Camilla Power explores the relation of sex and gender among African hunter-gatherers. Egalitarian peoples like Khoesan 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.