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Why Men? A human history of violence and inequality

June 4 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

FREE but booking required - see entry for details
  • Date and time:Tuesday 4 June 2024, 6pm to 7pm
  • Location:Online only
  • Admission:Free admission, booking required

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Event details

How did humans, a species that evolved to be cooperative and egalitarian, develop societies of enforced inequality? Why did our ancestors create patriarchal power and warfare? Did it have to be this way?

Elites have always called hierarchy and violence unavoidable facts of human nature. Evolution, they claim, has caused men to fight, and people – starting with men and women – to have separate, unequal roles. But that is bad science.

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale, authors of Why Men? A Human History of Violence and Inequality, will tell a smarter story of humanity, from early behaviours to contemporary cultures. From bonobo sex and prehistoric childcare to human sacrifice, Joan of Arc, Darwinism and Abu Ghraib, their talk will reveal that humans adapted to live equally, yet the earliest class societies suppressed this with invented ideas of difference. Ever since, these distortions have caused female, queer and minority suffering. But our deeply human instincts towards equality have endured.

Join Nancy and Jonathan as they discuss the privileges humans claim, how they rationalise them, and how we unpick those ideas about our roots.

This event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You will receive a link to join a couple of days before the event and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function, but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.

Book sales

You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner. In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too.

About the speakers

Nancy Lindisfarne is an anthropologist who previously studied and taught at SOAS University of London, UK. Her most recent book, written with Richard Tapper, is Afghan Village Voices.

Jonathan Neale is an historian and professional writer. His most recent book is Fight the Fire: Green New Deals and Global Climate Jobs.

This event is part of York Festival of Ideas – for the full programme see https://yorkfestivalofideas.com/2024/calendar/


June 4
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
FREE but booking required - see entry for details


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