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Did Matriarchy Ever Exist?
Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - 18:45
This lecture will discuss myths about a primordial matriarchy, stories which are found all over the world. Is there any truth in the idea that women once ruled the world? 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. We will discuss the ethnographic, archaeological and genetic evidence for and against these ideas.
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Evening talk information
Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.
Next evening class
Ethnographers of Congo Basin hunter-gatherers have emphasised ritual as a levelling mechanism that sustains egalitarianism by strengthening community spirit and mediating power evenly between individuals and subgroups. My talk will discuss how both mythology and ritual are involved in mutual causal interactions with other factors of social life that mark the emergence of inequality among a small community of Baka former hunter-gatherers. An emerging ideology of male predominance in mythology mirrors the same phenomenon in ritual, kinship practices and household economics. I argue that this preoccupation with patriarchal concerns in mythology is one of several strands of evidence pointing to the centrality of gender politics in the emergence of inequality among the Baka.