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Researchers into the origins of human language, mythic narrative and ritual have recently made exciting new discoveries. It is now known that symbolic culture began emerging in Africa some 100,000 years ago, in a social revolution whose echoes can still be heard in mythic narratives and ritual traditions from around the world.

St Martinʼs Community Centre, 43 Carol St, (2 mins from Camden Town tube).

Tuesdays, 6.30-9pm:
Jan 24 ‘Song-lines and rainbow snakes’ (myths from Aboriginal Australia) – Chris Knight
Jan 31 ‘Human heroes, power and the cosmos in Borneo’ – Monica Janowski
Feb 7 ‘The Tower of Babel’ (Noam Chomsky and the myth of ‘Universal Grammar’) – Chris Knight
Feb 14 ‘The Utopian Promise of Government’ (Cargo cults in Papua/New Guinea)
Feb 21 ‘An Amazonian Myth and its History’
Feb 28 The Politics in African Ethnomusicological Field Recordings – Noel Lobley
Mar 6  Reproduction and spirit owners among the Miskitu Indians – Mark Jamieson
Mar 13 ‘The Wives of the Sun and Moon’ (Arapaho Indians) – Chris Knight
Mar 20 ‘The hunter Monmaneki and his Wives’ (Tukano Indians)
Mar 27 ‘The Woman with the Zebra’s Penis’ (myths of the Hadza and other African hunter-gatherers) – Camilla Power

Topics include:

Is there such a thing as ‘human nature’, or does it all depend on the culture we live in?
Are children born with a ‘language instinct’? Can chimpanzees be taught to speak? How and why did language first evolve?
Is sexual jealousy natural and inevitable? Why do traditional carnivals so often become rituals of license?
Why did the Neanderthals of Ice Age Europe become extinct?
Is the nuclear family universal? Does a Navaho child have just one mother – or many?
The lifestyle of Native American long-house dwellers has been termed “communism in living”. Might such values hold lessons for humanity today?
Why do women in Amazonia believe that sleeping with multiple partners helps ensure a successful pregnancy?
Is biology woman’s destiny? Is the human male a “naked ape”?
Are traditional healing techniques effective? Why do myths about the origin of death so frequently implicate the moon?
How do hunter-gatherers maintain their egalitarianism?
Who builtStonehenge – and why?


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Radical Anthropology Taster Day: The Science of Myth, Magic and Folklore

Saturday, Sept 17, 11 to 5 p.m.

Room: V221, SOAS campus, Vernon Square, Penton Rise,
(near Kings Cross)

11.10 Introduction to Human Origins

(Chris Knight, 40 mins plus discussion)

12.00 Workshop on decoding fairytales: Sleeping Beauty

(Chris Knight, 60 mins, plus discussion/lunch)

1.45 Lunarchy: Hunter-gatherers and the Moon

(Camilla Power, 40 mins plus discussion)

2.45 Film show: The Moon Inside You

(60 mins, plus discussion)

4.00 Discussion space. What can we learn from anthropology about making another world possible?

This event is free, and all are welcome; if you can, please bring snack foods to share over lunch. Some drinks will be provided, plus bookstall space.

Run by the Radical Anthropology Group, in association with SOAS Student Union
For more info or to secure a place, email:

An Evening Class Introduction to Anthropology: From Evolution to Revolution

Autumn Term Syllabus 2011

Sep 20 The science of myth, magic and folklore, Chris Knight

Sep 27 The origins of culture and society ’’

Oct 4 Totem and taboo ’’

Oct 11 Early human kinship was matrilineal ‘’

Oct 18 The myth of primitive matriarchy ’’

Oct 25 Noam Chomsky’s politics and linguistics

Nov 1 Apes Like Us: Confessions of a primatologist Volker Sommer

Nov 8 Why don’t apes speak? Chris Knight

Nov 15 The origin of our species Chris Stringer

Nov 22 ‘Woman’s biggest husband is the Moon’ Jerome Lewis

Nov 29 How women initiated the French and Russian revolutions, with Mark Kosman

Dec 6 Neanderthals and the symbolic revolution Camilla Power

Dec 13 A Christmas fairy tale: The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces, Chris Knight

All lectures are held at the St Martinʼs Community Centre, 43 Carol St, London NW1 0HT (2 minutes from Camden Town tube)

Tuesday evenings, 6.15–9.00 pm.



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