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From Music To Language: A Bayaka Perspective
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - 18:45
An exploration of the many connections between music and language. Jerome is a leading figure in the field of language evolution, and one of the very few to base his thinking on his experiences living with a contemporary hunter-gatherer population. Drawing on many years of fieldwork with the Bayaka people of the Congo Basin, he shows how women's polyphonic singing, designed to keep dangerous predators at bay, forms one part of the explanation for human vocal skills, while another is the Bayaka hunter's skill in imitating animal cries.
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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.