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‘Woman's Biggest Husband Is The Moon’
Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 18:45
Jerome has many years experience in the field, working with the Bayaka hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin in Central Africa. This is a ground-breaking study of the central importance to women of the link between their bodies and the Moon. Bayaka men are made aware that even though, as husbands, they may have some sexual expectations, the Moon's own demands come first! Women's solidarity is fundamental to the unusually egalitarian dynamics of Bayaka society.
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In the Batek’s forest, laughter and mockery are often subject to taboo, and inappropriate laughter or mockery can cause storms, madness, ill-health, or even death. However, although these taboos are viewed and described with utmost seriousness, people also find great pleasure in laughing together and making jokes. In fact, this pleasure is often intensified when the laughter or joke is forbidden and risks catastrophe. This sets up a dynamic whereby it is largely up to individuals whether they choose to follow the taboos, or to ignore them and succumb to the pleasure of sharing in subversive laughter. Speaking to debates on power and ethics, this paper therefore both outlines the Batek’s laughter taboos, and asks how managing the conflicting demands of laughter shapes people’s ethical values, particularly in relation to power, authority, and egalitarianism.