The Sleeping Beauty And Other Tales: The Science Of Mythology Of Magical Myths

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Chris Knight

The Sleeping Beauty And Other Tales: The Science Of Mythology Of Magical Myths

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 - 18:45

The French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss was the first to discover that the world's magical myths and fairy tales all express the same underlying logic. Across all six continents, they are ultimately a single anonymous voice, 'One Myth Only', or so many variations on a theme. Rather as astronomers can still detect an echo of the Big Bang with which the universe began, so by listening to these myths we can detect an echo of the momentous events in which human language and culture were born. When Levi-Strauss' insights are applied to a familiar fairy story from the Brothers Grimm, the picture which emerges is breathtaking.

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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.