Did Matriarchy Ever Exist?

Evening talk

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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.

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

Next evening class

Chris Knight

How Collective Childcare Works In Practice
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

Anthropologists now widely agree that Homo sapiens evolved with our especially large brains thanks to unusually supportive childcare arrangements. Whereas an ape mother must care for her infant all by herself, evolving humans developed complex systems of cooperative childcare, mothers choosing to live with their own mother and other relatives in order to share childcare tasks. In this workshop, we will explore how sexual relations during human evolution underwent a series of profound changes, with male energies increasingly harnessed to provision and assist mothers and their babies. When did the incest taboo come into force, and why? How does sex in human societies connect up with economics? This session will explore such basic questions as the ultimate nature of distinctively human kinship, family life, economics and sexual morality.