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An Amazonian Myth: The Woman Who Was Torn In Two
Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 18:45
Chris Knight continues his exploration of key myths from the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’ four-volume masterpiece, 'An Introduction to the Science of Mythology' (‘Mythologiques.’) Tonight's narrative, ‘The Hunter Monmaneki and his Wives’ (Tukuna tribe, Amazonia), tells of a profound shift from periodic to non-periodic marriage, resulting in contradictions for womankind which eventually tear her apart. If you want to understand the ultimate origins of patriarchal marriage and the family, come along.
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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.