Women's Role In The Origins Of Language

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Chris Knight

Women's Role In The Origins Of Language

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 18:45

It was once rare for language origins theorists to even mention women. But the anthropologist Sara Hrdy has changed all that. Traditionally, labour was considered the co-operative framework within which language evolved. Hrdy's point is that while this is true, the kind of labour which gave rise to language was cooperative childcare. Chris Knight will build on this insight to explain how language presupposes very special levels of honesty and trust. The necessary mutual understanding was established in the first instance between mothers who, for the first time, were willing to trust someone else hold their baby without harming it. In place of 'the tool-making ape' or 'the hunting ape', modern evolutionary science now places 'the baby-sitting ape' centre stage.

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Chris Knight

Did Matriarchy Ever Exist?
Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

This lecture will discuss myths of matriarchy, which are found all over the world. Is there any truth in the idea that women once exercised political power over men? Many feminists have dismissed such stories 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. There will be discussion of the ethnographic, archaeological and genetic evidence for and against these ideas.