Emerging Patriarchy In The Mythology Of A Previously Egalitarian Society

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Cathryn Townsend

Emerging Patriarchy In The Mythology Of A Previously Egalitarian Society

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 18:45

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.

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Chris Knight

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Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

Chris Knight is best known for having developed the 'sex-strike' theory of human biological and cultural origins. Instead of attempting to explain human nature and social life piecemeal, one theory for the incest taboo, another for language, yet another for religion and so forth, Knight's approach is designed to join up the dots. Spectacularly confirmed by recent discoveries in population genetics and archaeology, this is one of the few successful attempts to put together the big picture, explaining religion, language, sexual morality and the whole range of distinctively human characteristics on the basis of one simple idea.