How Collective Childcare Works In Practice

Evening talk

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Chris Knight

How Collective Childcare Works In Practice

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 18:45

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.

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

Next evening class

Chris Knight

A Plains Indian Myth: When Women Lost Their Power
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

'The Wives of the Sun and Moon' is one of the key myths of Claude Levi-Strauss' monumental study, Mythologiques. This evening will begin with a story-telling followed by a workshop and class discussion to decode the message of the myth. Originally, according to the Arapaho Indians of North American Plains, marriage was not a fixed state but a periodic alternation between one kind of relationship and another, a once-a-month honeymoon followed each month by divorce and re-union with kin. Everything started going badly wrong when hunting and gathering gave way to gardening, the lunar calendar gave way to a seasonal/solar rhythm - and womankind became subject to wedlock as a permanent state.