Blood Relations


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Menstruation and the Origins of Culture

Chris Knight

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This original and ingenious book presents a new theory of the origins of human culture. Integrating perspectives of evolutionary biology and social anthropology within a Marxist framework, Chris Knight rejects the common assumption that human culture was a modified extension of primate behavior and argues instead that it was the product of an immense social, sexual, and political revolution initiated by women.

"I suspect that it will be a slow burning classic, revived from time to time, but then discarded because it repudiates bourgeois metaphysics."—Keith Hart, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

"From apparently modest beginnings, this is the most ambitious project on the origins of culture to have emerged for decades. The effort to establish a collectivist departure for the theory of human communication has had to struggle against the individualist assumptions that dominate cognitive science, but this very struggle makes the book original and important."—Mary Douglas

"A quite remarkable contribution to our subject."—Marilyn Strathem, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

"Blood Relations points us all in a refreshingly new direction."—Clive Gamble, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton

"Perfectly plausible. The theory hangs together in a rather interesting way which suggests the author is in the right area. But the story is almost too good to be completely correct. He's probably got it 60 or 70 percent right."—Robin Dunbar, Reader in Anthropology, University College London

"I am both surprised and pleased. Bloody interesting and bloody important."—Alexander Marshack, Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

"Chris Knight has drawn widely on classical Marxist theory and structuralism in the Levi-Strauss tradition, as well as on the contemporary offerings from feminism, paleontology and sociobiology, to weld together a grand synthesis on the origins of culture. . . . Interestingly, . . . Knight's hypothesis does seem to provide a simple explanation for a number of biological and cultural phenomena that have hitherto been regarded as unrelated."—Robin Dunbar, Times Higher Education Supplement

"An immense work of documentation and close argument. . . . For all its obvious risks, the model offers no hypothesis which is not rigorously testable. Not only this, but it appears to solve most of the outstanding conundrums in contemporary anthropology. It does this by approaching directly matters that have hitherto been avoided, indeed tabooed, by accepting the hypothesis that the human menstrual cycle has not only a structure but a function. . . . Knight's study is . . . a magnificent work of materialistic science constructed from anthropological field-work and tribal myth."—Peter Redgrove, Times Literary Supplement

"Chris Knight brings evidence from a wide range of disciplines to take forward the argument for women's initiatory role in human culture and to attempt to answer the question of how men, over time, came to appropriate women's power."—Camilla Power, Everywoman

"Knight has come up with a new and startling theory: human culture originated with a sex strike by female primates, a revolutionary act of collective solidarity which transformed `females' into women. . . . I find this book stimulating, positive and brave. . . . [Knight] suggests a new way to think about a host of enigmas, from bloody snake images to rituals of the full moon, and for this daring we should certainly be grateful."—Caroline Humphrey, London Review of Books

"An important and stimulating contribution to studies in human cultural origins. . . . Necessary reading for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals."—Choice

"A book of absorbing interest . . . I can recommend this book for health sociologists and students."—Agnes Miles, Sociology of Health and Illness

ISBN: 9780300063080
Publication Date: May 24, 1995
592 pages, 6 x 9
Decoding Chomsky

Science and Revolutionary Politics

Chris Knight

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