Why Patriarchy? The Origins Of Gender Inequality

Evening talk

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Chris Knight

Why Patriarchy? The Origins Of Gender Inequality

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 18:45

This lecture will discuss myths about a primordial matriarchy, stories which are found all over the world. Is there any truth in the idea that women once ruled everywhere? If patriarchy eventually replaced matriarchy, what were the reasons for this change? Many feminists have dismissed matriarchy myths as ideological narratives invented simply to justify men's rule. These scholars argue that biology prevents women from exercising real political power, that sexism prevails everywhere and that patriarchy has always existed. Focusing on a myth from Aboriginal Australia, we will discuss the ethnographic, archaeological and genetic evidence for and against these ideas.

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Evening talk information

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

Next evening class

Camilla Power

Laughing At The Gods: Bushman Trickster Tales
Tuesday, January 21, 2020 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

Recently, it has been argued that no truly egalitarian societies exist since even those which appear to show equality in real life still have beliefs in dominant divine forces. In this talk, Camilla Power examines the role of the main supernatural entity of Khoisan Bushman peoples, the 'Trickster’. Denizen of First Creation, Trickster shows repeated characteristics of counter- and reverse dominance. He or she switches between an awesome or cosmic aspect – guarding game animals or bleeding initiates – and a weird, comical figure who is mean, cheating, greedy and lecherous, chopping off bits of the body which then behave extremely badly. Can the diverse versions of Trickster be reconciled and is there any underlying logic to them? A number of Khoisan stories will be narrated and discussed to reveal what they have in common. The Trickster expresses cycles of time and oscillation between periods of taboo and relaxation of taboo.