The First Americans: Archaeological And Ethnohistorical Perspectives

Evening class

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Alicia Colson

The First Americans: Archaeological And Ethnohistorical Perspectives

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 18:45

This talk will survey the archaeological and ethnohistory of the Ojibwa (Chippewa), who are one of largest groups of the Algonquian speakers, currently located in Canada and the US. The Algonquian language group is the most populous and widespread of the Native American indigenous peoples and covers an area from the Atlantic Ocean, into the interior along the St Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes. The experience of the Ojibwa, specifically, enables us to gain an understanding of the centuries’ old conflicts with white settlers, governments and corporations over land, water, and mineral resources. Even if different lines of evidence (genetic, linguistic, archaeological, anthropological, ethnohistoric) are considered, the identification of the homeland of the Ojibwa remains a challenge.

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Evening class information

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

Next evening class

Frederique Darragon

Ancient Matriarchies Of The Chinese Borderlands: Myth Or Reality?
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

From time immemorial, numerous illiterate tribes have created, through the impossible terrain of the Sino-Tibetan Marches, fiercely independent kingdoms which thrived until the early 20th century. Many of them pledged allegiance to the Chinese Empire, as did the little-studied matriarchal “Nu Er Guos” queendoms described in the Chinese Annals until 742. Today, these regions are less isolated, but in spite of the Chinese influence, polyandry is making a come-back. Marriage-less matrilineal societies still flourish in a few remote valleys and courtship customs implying that women would cherry-pick among pretenders have only recently disappeared. Could this unusual state of affairs be the remains of these ancient matriarchal queendoms?
Or is it also that the extreme remoteness of these realms has preserved age-old traditions once common elsewhere? Both Chinese and Greek earliest texts stated that people “knew their mothers but not their fathers.”
I will argue that, contrary to current western androcentric assumptions, patriarchy is not timeless and the nuclear family is not universal. Rigorous ethnographic scholarship demonstrates that around the globe humans have adopted many different reproductive strategies, all of which were successful and many of which endured until today despite the spread of monotheistic religions and globalization. Time has come for academia to base its claims on facts rather than theories whose primary purpose was, and still is, to justify the status quo.