A Plains Indian Myth: The Wives Of The Sun And Moon

Evening talk

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Chris Knight

A Plains Indian Myth: The Wives Of The Sun And Moon

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 18:45

'The Wives of the Sun and Moon' is one of the key myths of Claude Levi-Strauss' monumental study, Mythologiques. This evening will take the form of a story-telling followed by a workshop and class discussion to decode the message of the myth. Originally, according to this story, marriage was not a fixed state but a periodic alternation between one kind of relationship and another, a once-a-month honeymoon followed by temporary 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.

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

Next evening class

Cathryn Townsend

Emerging Patriarchy In The Mythology Of A Previously Egalitarian Society
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

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.