Did Matriarchy Ever Exist?

Evening talk

This talk has already happened.

Chris Knight

Did Matriarchy Ever Exist?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 18:45

This lecture will discuss myths of matriarchy, which are found all over the world. Is there any truth in the idea that women once exercised political power over men? Many feminists have dismissed such stories as ideological narratives invented simply to justify men's rule. These scholars argue that biology prevents women from exercising real political power, that sexism prevails everywhere and that patriarchy has always existed. There will be discussion of the ethnographic, archaeological and genetic evidence for and against these ideas.

More about Chris Knight

Evening talk information

Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.

Next evening class

Alice Rudge

Dangerous Laughter: Egalitarianism And The Batek Of Peninsular Malaysia
Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 19:00
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

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.