Rule By The Moon In Human Origins And Evolution

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Chris Knight

Rule By The Moon In Human Origins And Evolution

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 18:45

Chris Knight has always claimed that the moon played a much larger role in human evolution than is generally thought. This lecture will summarize his overall theory of the origins of religion, ritual, language and symbolic culture. For our distant African ancestors, the moon became crucial from the moment we left the shelter of forest life and began occupying open savanna territory. In this new environment, early humans sought safety in numbers to counter the threat posed by lions and other large cats whose night vision was far superior to ours. Lions prefer to hunt when the moon is dark, which explains why even to this day, hunter-gatherer women choose to sing in chorus at dark moon to keep dangerous predators away. Unlike our ape relatives, women have a menstrual cycle of the length you would predict if synchronizing with the moon had been adaptive in our evolutionary past.

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Alice Rudge

Dangerous Laughter: Egalitarianism And The Batek Of Peninsular Malaysia
Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 19:00
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

In the Batek’s forest, laughter and mockery are often subject to taboo, and inappropriate laughter or mockery can cause storms, madness, ill-health, or even death. However, although these taboos are viewed and described with utmost seriousness, people also find great pleasure in laughing together and making jokes. In fact, this pleasure is often intensified when the laughter or joke is forbidden and risks catastrophe. This sets up a dynamic whereby it is largely up to individuals whether they choose to follow the taboos, or to ignore them and succumb to the pleasure of sharing in subversive laughter. Speaking to debates on power and ethics, this paper therefore both outlines the Batek’s laughter taboos, and asks how managing the conflicting demands of laughter shapes people’s ethical values, particularly in relation to power, authority, and egalitarianism.