In this episode, Angela Saini, award-winning science journalist and author of “The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule,” traces the material and social roots of patriarchy with host Adam Gamwell. The duo explores how anthropology can help us better understand the patriarchy and patriarchal power by contextualizing and breaking down big ideas.
In this episode, Angela Saini, award-winning science journalist and author of “The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule,” traces the material and social roots of patriarchy with host Adam Gamwell. The duo explores how anthropology can help us better understand the patriarchy and patriarchal power by contextualizing and breaking down big ideas. Anthropology enables us to examine broad, complex topics through specific cultural and historical lenses. It also helps us dissect grand narrative ideas to reveal their historical trajectories. But perhaps most importantly, anthropology reminds us that we need to think about big ideas contextually, especially emotionally and politically charged ideas like the patriarchy.
They dive into the definition of patriarchy and its ties to social structures, social privileges, and oppression. The conversation also touches on how different cultures interpret and shape the deployment and maintenance of gender and power to reflect their unique social norms. Saini emphasizes the importance of understanding the social variation and how male domination adapts to different changes. Drawing on many forms of evidence, she discusses the multiplicities of patriarchies, how patriarchy today functions and shapes different aspects of our lives, and how we can think big about what form of society we’d like to continue, reinvent, or totally change for ourselves and our children. Saini's work aims to bring awareness to the many different kinds of patriarchies that exist and how they are being recreated and reasserted today.
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[00:00:00] Adam Gamwell:Hello and welcome to This Anthro Life, a podcast about the little things we do as people that shape the course of humanity. I'm your host, Adam Gamwell. Today's conversation brings TAL's tagline to life in one of the most direct ways so far. One of the things I love most about anthropology is the ability it affords us to look at seemingly huge and fuzzy topics through specific cultural and historical manifestations. It helps us get out of the all-too-easy-to-fall-into trap of assuming that our understanding of something is representative of that thing everywhere. Anthropology helps us take grand narrative ideas apart to see their historical trajectories, to see how they developed and changed over time, and how different cultures differently interpret and shape aspects to reflect their unique social norms and needs. In short, it reminds us we need to think about things contextually. And that's particularly hard with big ideas, especially difficult to talk about, emotionally and politically charged ideas, like the patriarchy. Now, if you're unfamiliar with the term, a common definition is a social system where positions of dominance and privilege are primarily held by men. You'll see the term used across the political spectrum today as a technical term for families or clans that are controlled by elder or males and in relation to social commentaries on social structures in which men have social privileges over others, often causing exploitation and oppression.
[00:01:28]So I'm very excited today to be joined by award-winning science journalist Angela Saini. She is the author of four books, including Superior: The Return of Race Science, which was a finalist in the LA Times Book Prize, andInferior: How Science Got Women Wrong. Now, today, we're gonna dive into her latest book calledThe Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule.
[00:01:50]Tracing the evolution of patriarchy meant unraveling the intricate webs of state, family, societal norms, and expectations that have shaped what being a man or woman means and gender roles for centuries. Angela's investigations took her across the globe and into deep time, going from ancient sites like Çatalhöyük, which is a site occupied around 9000 BCE, all the way to contemporary challenges raised by the US Supreme Court's recent overturning of Roe versus Wade, a court case that up until this point ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion.
[00:02:24]As the subtitle of this book suggests, Angela's quest in writing, this is to trace the material and social roots of patriarchal power across states and empires and into families. Drawing on many forms of evidence, including material remains and archeology to histories, written accounts, anthropological conversations, expert interviews, philosophy, policy, you name it, she reveals when, where, and how humanity saw the rise of patriarchal power in its various manifestations and contexts shifts over time and variations around the world. The key point is patriarchy is neither biological destiny nor just one monolithic entity that functions the same everywhere. As we'll discuss, patriarchy is a set of situated practices with unique cultural manifestations that have shaped how power is moved around and deployed through things like religion, education, gender norms, state policy, family structures, and more.
[00:03:17]The multiplicities of patriarchies also indicate why this form of authority and power is both so pervasive and difficult to reckon with as many of us seek to build more equitable societies today and for the future. Understanding history and the interpretation of power is crucial in dismantling different kinds of structures. People must be willing to question their own assumptions, traditions, and customs if they want to understand how the world came to be the way that it is, but then also if they want to build more equitable societies to understand how change might take place. And Angela will suggest that by taking an evidence-based approach to history and societal structure, you can gain a more nuanced understanding of how patriarchy has functioned in the past, how it functions today, and how it shapes different aspects of our lives. And the takeaway here is that this form of questioning can empower us to create new kinds of traditions and customs that live on the values of equality and fairness that many of us are looking for, fostering a more empathetic and humane society.
[00:04:12]There is a ton in today's episode, and I cannot wait to dive into it with you. So we'll be right back after hearing from this episode's sponsor.
[00:04:35]Angela, I just wanted to say a huge thanks for joining me on the podcast today. I enormously enjoyed your book and I love the travel through both world history and contemporary events in trying to help us make sense of where the idea of patriarchs or patriarchy and really patriarchs, you know, with an S in the plural kind of came to be and how this has shaped a bit of the world that we live in today. So just, again, wanna start off by saying thanks so much for joining me on the program and excited to dive in with you.
[00:05:02] Angela Saini:Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
[00:05:05] Adam Gamwell:Yeah, no, it's again a true pleasure 'cause I think this is one of the I think harder topics to kind of dive into for a lot of folks because we recognize forms of oppression in the world. We recognize a lot of the challenges that we face in terms of, you know, gender inequality, sexual inequality. But then also one of the things that your book does I think a really great job and your research does is help us understand basically how many threads have to come together in different ways for patriarchy to kind of form itself and then find its way into existence. And so I think one of the key things that are maybe helpful to start off with is that oftentimes, you know, in common language, people think about patriarchy as this one monolithic thing, right? It's patriarchy is the block, and that's, you know, one of the big things that you challenge in this work. And so can you help us kind of break down how do we how can we like more profitably or helpfully think about what patriarchy is or define it in a way that's more accurate or helpful for us to kind of understand where it came from and what we might do about it.
[00:05:57] Angela Saini:Well, I think one of the problems is that when you treat it as this abstract problem, it becomes quite distant and intractable. You, you know, you become quite fatalistic about it. So often, I think when we refer to patriarchy, we do it in popular culture I think even more than we do it in the feminist literature because the feminist literature has kind of drifted away from patriarchy as a concept over recent decades because it is so abstract because it's so hard to pin down. And it became very clear I think to scholars that women's oppression is not the same all over the world. It actually takes, can take very different forms, depending on the local culture and the history. And certainly, that was what I found when I was writing the book is that there is so much social variation, and that is exactly what you would expect because human culture is, you know, comes in so many different forms and we're constantly changing how we live. So why would male domination not adapt to those changes and take those same different forms? So this is why I'm a bit reluctant to talk about patriarchy as this monolithic thing as you describe, and I focus more on this idea that there are many different kinds of patriarchies that we're still inventing, recreating, reasserting, even in the present.
[00:07:17] Adam Gamwell:And I think that that's a really important point too that as we're thinking about the definitions here, that patriarchy one isn't one thing to your point, but then also that it's also not a only historical artifact that then we're living through. This is kind of a point that you make both early in the book and then — made throughout but then also I think forcefully at the end too that's important is that as a form of tradition in terms of how we explain the world and then what we think, you know, why we think social systems are the way that they are, we also tend to kind of reify to make real or to pretend that something in the past is both natural and the way that things were and that's why things are the way they are today. And so I think this idea I think is really powerful too for us to — as we break down different forms of patriarchies that we kind of see historically and today, that also this makes us rethink the questions of tradition, right, in terms of why power structures are the way that they are. And I think one of the most pernicious and challenging parts about gender oppression, sexual oppression, and into patriarchies is that people think or are taught that it is natural, that like that men are more dominant and that women are more submissive. And so even these ideas, you know, if we break this down thinking as an anthropologist on one level that there's the gender norms of masculinity and femininity and then there's the sexual, you know, biological characteristics of male and female. And so even these ideas, they get mapped onto each other in certain ways that we expect certain bodies to act certain ways, right, to act feminine or to act masculine. But, you know, again, what the work helps us kind of see is that these ideas are also constructed, right, and so through this idea of patriarchy.
[00:08:47]And so one of the pieces that I'd love to break down too with this that you help us think about is where the idea of patriarchy kind of comes in. Because you go into deep history, into deep time, which I thought was really fascinating and in a fun kind of maybe we are gonna say fun but like an interesting, you know, dive into that. It was a fun read, I guess. But like, you know, there's an interesting way to kind of dive back to kind of deep time even to, you know, we talk about Çatalhöyük as one of the oldest kind of cities or conglomerates of people living together. But there's really interesting evidence that's happening in that space. So I'd love it to kind of talk about this and how does — like why'd you choose to go to 9000 BC as kind of a starting point to help us think about where do these ideas and concepts around gender and control come from?
[00:09:31] Angela Saini:I would've gone even earlier if we had good evidence from any earlier. But of course when you go back that far into pre-history, the evidence becomes more and more sparse and open to interpretation. So Çatalhöyük is of course famous for being one of the oldest settlements from which we have any kind of evidence of how people lived. It still predates writing and it predates even hieroglyphics. The only real representation we have of how people might have thought are these very vivid red frescoes on the wall that show hunting scenes and pictures of kind of vultures picking apart bodies. But again, they're not particularly gendered, so there's no real sense that people lived in very gendered ways. And certainly, all the measures we have for gender inequality through archeological data shows us that men and women lived in very similar ways. They spent around the same amount of time indoors or outdoors. They ate the same kind of food. They did the same kind of work. So you can measure the work that people did through the wear and tear on their bones where that happened. So for example, if you're leaning down and grinding flour, for instance, you are on your knees for a long time and there's a certain pattern on your body of wear and tear. And it shows that men and women did roughly the same kind of work. And certainly, from other parts of the world in that same period 9,000 years ago, we see women hunters, we see women warriors. There's no shortage of evidence of that.
[00:10:59]So it's very difficult from the evidence that we have to say that that period of pre-history, so this is 9,000 years and prior, was necessarily very gendered. We just don't have the evidence for it. That's not to say we may not have the evidence later, but if we are to approach this in a scientific way and be neutral and fair about it and be led by the evidence, then we cannot say that pre-history was necessarily patriarchal. We just can't. So the question then is why do we assume that it must have been? And that is the confusion for me — is that if we don't have the evidence for it, why do we assume it must have been? And of course the reason so many scholars have and still do is because they cannot imagine a world in which men haven't always had as much power as they do now or as they have had more recently. But of course the sweep of human history is a very long time, two or 3,000 years, which is really the span that we have for measuring the gender depression when we really have really good evidence of gender depression is not a very long time.
[00:12:04] Adam Gamwell:Yeah. No, that's a great point. And I think that you — you pointed this out in the book too that there is, you know, oftentimes history is written by, you know, people trying to explain the present, right, versus what actually happened in the past. And I really like the way you say that there's even this impossibility of imagining for so many men but then so many also just folks across history too that just in terms of what how could the past have been different than today in terms of we've always — if things have air quotes — always been a world of male domination, how could it ever have been different, right? And so even this I think really interesting question of how do we help reshape those imaginations? So I think that's one of the important things that your work does here is that taking an evidence-based approach of just saying, well, we're looking back at how we're seeing, you know, the physical wear and tear in bodies, the interpretability of the art we're finding or the artifacts that are left behind. They're not clearly male or female necessarily or masculine or feminine. They may have characteristics of both. And so I think these pieces, especially again the body wear and tear I think is really important, you know, in terms of — I think hoping, you know, kind of pushing that narrative of saying, well, actually, we're seeing evidence that shows that this is not quite the way.
[00:13:09]So I think one of the interesting stories that you break down too that I'd love to kind of tell a little bit here is this idea of like when Çatalhöyük was being excavated, you know, in the seventies, the 1970s, in, you know, in around this era, there was this kind of push in terms of what people were looking for wanting to find, right? So there was a — James Mellaart was one of the folks working on the site at the time, and so you kind of break a bit of the story down of what he thought he was seeing and how this kind of shaped the way that the folks were, you know, saying what was happening in this space. So can you tell us a little bit about this idea. This is an interesting to get to your imagination point, right? What are we imagining that we're seeing?
[00:13:44] Angela Saini:Well, the thing is it was happening in a particular historical context. So in the middle of the 19th century, the question of the origins of inequality became a very big one, and this was because social revolutions were happening across Europe. The United States, you know, was being founded on these on this principle of egalitarianism and equality, at least nominally, you know? Well, it didn't work that way in practice necessarily. But that question became a very big one, which is where you get anthropologists like Henry Lewis Morgan step in, philosophers like Friedrich Engels step in and ask, well, actually, have we always been patriarchal? Where does patriarchy come from? And their reference point was indigenous societies in the Americas because of course, like I said, settler-colonialists were building this new nation on what they believed to be egalitarian principles. American women in the middle of the 19th century were fighting for their rights. And yet as they learned, there were indigenous women here, the Haudenosaunee then known as the Iroquois, who already had all these rights, who had a lot of authority within their families, who were in charge of agriculture, who were matrilineal — so name and property were passed or names and, you know, property in a different sense from how Europeans imagined it but was passed down through the female line. Certainly, mothers were seen as the heads of their family. They were seen as the ultimate authority within their families.
[00:15:14]And they couldn't understand it, you know? These European people of European heritage, philosophers, anthropologists, women's rights activists couldn't square that with this idea that what they were fighting for was something new and modern because these societies were so old and ancient. And the way they reconciled themselves with it was to say that, well, matriliny or matriarchy was ancient. It was our primitive state as human beings — that we had all been matriarchal once, but then men had wised up and taken control of the family and taken control of women. And certainly, people like Henry Lewis Morgan thought this was how it should be — that patriarchy and male domination was the natural and correct order of things. So their answer to that was to say, well, if patriarchy is civilized and these people are uncivilized and they belong to the past, then we should civilize them into patriarchy, which is essentially what happened. European colonial powers all over the world did exactly this. But in the Americas, of course, we know in indigenous boarding schools, young boys were taught to be the heads of their households and to do agricultural work and girls were taught to be housewives, you know, for the first time — to move out of agricultural work and stay at home and fulfill this stereotype, this European stereotype of the nurturing kind of stay-at-home domesticated housewife. Women were told for the first time that they had to name their children after the fathers of the children, which they hadn't done before, and they railed against this. There was a lot of friction. There was a lot of tension. It wasn't unresisted. There was always resistance throughout this. But we have to remember that that idea of matriarchy being the primitive state — which is a racist idea because it implies that these societies were not modern and of course they were also modern. They had just organized themselves differently — and that patriarchy was the modern state, the civilized way of living, continued into the 20th century.
[00:17:16]So by the time you get to the 1960s and Çatalhöyük is being excavated by James Mellaart, the Dutch-British archeologist, that is his reference point. He sees in Çatalhöyük a society in which men and women are not living different lives. It's quite apparent. But particularly, he sees lots of female figurines. So from that time period, we have a lot of female figurines. It's actually quite overwhelming. If you visit the museums, as I've done in Anatolia, the history museums and archeological museums, they're just full of these kind of what looked like Barbara Hepworth-style female forms. And the way that Mellaart and others interpreted that was to say that here is evidence of the great goddess; that this is a this was a matriarchal society, and that here we have proof of it. And we don't necessarily. We don't know if these figurines really did represent women or not. They could have represented lots of different things. But also, we don't know that they were necessarily goddesses. They could have been representations of real people. And given how naturalistic some of them are — the most famous is a seated woman of Çatalhöyük, which shows what looks to be an older woman. There are kind of deep indentations in her skin. She has these beautiful rolls of fat kind of spilling out around her. It looks like a real person, you know? It really looks like it could be my grandmother or, you know, it looks like a real person. So we don't know what they represented, but the reason they interpreted it the way that they did was because of that 19th century debate had spilled over into the 20th century.
[00:18:55] Adam Gamwell:I think that was also one of the most fascinating pieces of the story too is that, you know, having to wrestle with the social evolutionism, right, of old school anthropology and philosophical thinking and these ideas that — thinking from, you know, both the American ideal that we are rejecting, you know, monarchy as this sort of state-imposed form of authority into something that is, quote unquote, more natural I think was also this really interesting, you know, kind of flow of that narrative. And then, we're seeing kind of social scientists and philosophers and other thinkers try to categorize and hierarchize what is happening across, you know, human history, and one of these is this idea of social evolutionism, right, that we're going from more primitive societies to more advanced and more civilized. And so the I think the way that you helped marry together the idea of matriarchy and patriarchy as part of that narrative I think it was really helpful to understand that we're not just looking at, you know, civilization as the idea of larger cities, you know? We are seeing an embedding of authority, right? And then, in this case, that authority tends to be focused as a kind of patriarchy, right? And so even this idea too that like noting that this is how it's shaping the narratives that we saw at Çatalhöyük and what we're trying to understand what's happening in these spaces that reminding us that like the past is something that we have to interpret, right, and that that's, you know, one of the tenets of archeology, but then also I think good journalism too is that like in all these ways of thinking is that we have to then look at the evidence of what are we seeing and recognizing when and how we are interpreting what it is that we're seeing.
[00:20:25]And so this kind of work I think is really, really helpful 'cause again as we get further back into the past, especially, you know, this deep time era, there's not writing, right? And so we are looking at figurines. And so I think the evidence too of this the most famous figure that you're referencing too I think is really interesting too 'cause it does indicate that as a more representative kind of figure that it could have indeed been individual versus kind of just an abstract idea. Which I think tells us some important things, right, in terms of who may have been venerated and how we were choosing to celebrate people in that society at the time, and tells us something important about like, you know, typically, who art gets made about, you know? It's weirder for us to think about this today 'cause you can take an iPhone picture of anybody, right? So it feels a little more curious to say I guess if you have a statue made about you, it might feel a bit different, right? But the idea of when we choose to represent people and I think that's an important part of this. And then, you know, how we are choosing to interpret that. Even today, as we think about this, like both in terms of how James Mellaart was kind of coming from this idea of trying to question the social evolutionary theory, right, that we are going from this more primitive to civilized, but then also the challenge point of that in terms of saying, well, if it's not this, which is what today we're in the patriarchy, that's the this version, we wanna go back and say what was before, therefore it was more matriarchy and matriliny. So even that's interesting because on one level, it does provide a nice counternarrative to what patriarchy can be. But I think as you're kind of pointing out and the evidence shows us that it's possible to interpret things that way. But then at the same time, as we're trying to make sense of it, that we also have to understand the historical context out of which the folks that are doing the writing are in fact interpreting the past also. So I guess it's fuzzy, right? It's kind of the interesting piece that you're showing, which I really appreciate too 'cause I think it's helpful because there's a lot of like emotion charged when we talk about patriarchy, right, and oppression. And so this is again an interesting way of saying if we take an evidence-based approach, what are we seeing?
[00:22:15]And so the other piece that I really liked that you brought up there too was this idea of the idea here of that like the primitive kind of had to be invented by thinkers at the time. And like I really liked how you opened with the notion of Seneca Falls and the story here of like the fight for women's right to vote and adding women's rights in general to the kind of American conversation and that like this was this interesting contrast at the time with the Haudenosaunee group at the time, Iroquois, kind of the names of the confederacy of different Native American groups and that this idea of, you know, we as the American experiment are trying to, you know, make a more modern way of being, you know, and rejecting the monarchy, but then finding that there's actually these ancient and, you know, long-existing civilizations on the same land that we are now occupying and that this notion that they have a different way of being and like how do we even cognize that is only to say by difference we also mean in this case worsen that somehow less evolved.
[00:23:12]And so that's a really interesting, you know, I think point of pausing and just to kind of to reiterate here to help us think about when we are looking at groups that are different from ourselves, especially different, you know, societies, that oftentimes the defense mechanism in our mind might jump to say, well, they're different. Different is bad, you know? Different is somehow not as good. Maybe a nicer way of saying that. But then recognizing that there also was a lot of — one of the things you talk about in that chapter is the tensions that a lot of folks around like Seneca Falls were also finding in the conversations that saying there was a lot of value in the way that they're seeing societies in Haudenosaunee. So love to hear a little bit about that idea too and some of the tension of the story Haudenosaunee that it wasn't just this like, oh, they're, quote unquote, backwards or uncivilized.
[00:23:55] Angela Saini:There's absolutely that in the 19th century, women's rights activists looked to the Haudenosaunee for inspiration as well. It wasn't that they were consigning them to this kind of backwardness bin and saying, you know, that you belong to the past. We have nothing to do with you. For them, it was also wonderful to see a society in which women had so much power and they would often raise them in debates as an example of how different society could be. What is disappointing perhaps is that they didn't use that opportunity then to kind of build an America in which, you know, their rights and freedoms were respected in the same way, you know? There was this sense that, yes, look how wonderful and different these people are, but this is still our land now and we are going to build the society that we want. And we can borrow from you, but ultimately, you will have to follow our way of life. We're not going to suddenly adopt yours, even if we take inspiration from you. So there was a tension without a doubt. There was this sense that sense of wonder and excitement at the same time as this sense of still cultural and racial superiority.
[00:25:06] Adam Gamwell:Yeah. I think and that's, I mean, there's many heartbreaking moments in the book, but that was one of them too, where it's just that when we see examples of functional difference that provide another world, right, to say this is another way that we can organize society that may in fact be better, you know? Again, it's depending on what one's asking for in terms of power distribution. But, you know, then we always see that that tends to get subsumed in this case like under the guise of colonialism.
[00:25:29]And so one of the other distinctions you make that I wanna I'd like to break down too is this as we see patriarchy spread, like it's often the like linked together with the idea of things like slavery and patrilocality can inform each other, right? Colonialism obviously as a — I don't know — raft upon which it can spread, you know, to other parts of the world even. So even this idea too I think is something else that's I think helpful for us to break down, and this is like the there's a the central part of the book I think is this really interesting, challenging set of conversations, again, around slavery, around alienation, oftentimes through patrilocality of women having to leave their families, their kin families to go to move to their husband's communities.
[00:26:12]So let's kind of break some of these pieces down. I know there's a lot that happens in the middle, but these pieces where oftentimes people then, you know, we can hear conversations, again if we're thinking about patriarchy as this like one kind of block or monolith, part of that is then we tend to think that, okay, there's a connection between, you know, slavery and marriage. And so there is some interesting conversational pieces that you break down there, but — not saying they're the same thing — but just like there's oftentimes, it's important to tease those apart, which is what you do. So I'd like to kind of help pull out some of those threads and then kind of how we're seeing the possibilities historically of how there has been links between practices of slavery and captive-taking and patrilocality and then all that mess that's there in the middle.
[00:26:57] Angela Saini:It is difficult to break apart because as I was saying, there are so many different factors that feed into the direction that a society chooses to take, and many of those are around what those in power — what suits them and what serves them. So certainly, in those earliest states in ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Assyria, population was a huge preoccupation. It was genuinely so important in ways that is difficult for us to understand now because we are such a populous world and we take stateship and citizenship for granted. This is just something that happens to every single one of us. We're just born into this — or for most of us anyway. We're born into this. But if you imagine in those earlier states, keeping people there and keeping your population up was a huge problem — a massive thing. And this is something I interviewed James Scott the anthropologist about when I was writing the book. And he kept reiterating that what you see in these early states in much of the documented material that we have — so if you look at ancient Assyrian tablets — it's list after list after list. It's just lists. And the reason for that is that administration and bureaucracy, managing people and goods and products and all of that is so vitally important.
[00:28:16]But managing people, if we go back to that idea of population, you need families to have as many children as possible 'cause you need to keep your population up or at least bring in as many people as possible, and you need those families to be loyal to the states so they don't leave and they're willing to defend it even with their lives. And that remains a preoccupation today for states. Anytime that birth rates fall anywhere in the world, governments get very nervous about it, you know? They bring in measures to encourage people to have more children. Sometimes, financial incentives, which we can see in Hungary right now. The government has just brought in many financial incentives for families for bigger families. And same with defense. We can see that in Russia. All these poor young men being conscripted into a war effort that many of them are not suited for, but they don't have a choice because that's what the state tells you you have to do. And that is true for all of us. If our countries go to war, any of us could be conscripted and be expected to fight. And that is becoming even an ungendered thing in some states. So in South Korea, for instance, they're thinking of having mandatory service for women as well as for men. And in Israel, they already have that.
[00:29:26]So these kind of twin preoccupations then are the reason that the state becomes interested in the family and what happens in the family. And this in turn, drives certain ideas about what it is to be a man and a woman then. You can't have this expansive sense of a woman can be anything or a man can be anything. A woman is expected to have more children and a man and is expected to fight. And the reason they can't interchange those things is one biological — because not all men can have children — but also, it's not that women can't fight. But if you were to die in fighting, that's a loss of population because you're not then able to have children. So it becomes a very binary thing, which it wasn't before. And for a long time, it still wasn't, you know? These things were being negotiated for thousands of years. But that kind of set the groundwork for how states these early states were organized, or at least the patriarchal early states were organized.
[00:30:24]And then, coming back to your question around slavery and marriage, is that one of the other factors that feeds into the way that patriarchal states work was patrilocality. So patrilocality is not universal. There are many matrilocal societies in the world. But patrilocality expects women to move away from their childhood homes and live with their husband's families as they when they marry. And of course what that does is create atmospheres for exploitation and vulnerability because essentially, you become a stranger in your husband's home. And this is more severe in those societies in which states are going to war, killing people and bringing women back as wives. Because then, you are vulnerable in so many different ways because you're a foreigner, because you are seen with suspicion, because your own family have been killed by the sometimes the very people you are married to. So this creates a very weird social tension. You see that most vividly in city-states like ancient Athens, in which literature the ancient Greek literature is seething with this suspicion of women, this kind of fear that women will take over. There's legends of the Amazons. So many Greek dramas and plays are about women trying to overthrow the men or women kind of being disloyal to the men or trying to kill the men. And I think that speaks to this anxiety that women can't be trusted. And of course the reason they felt they couldn't trust women is because perhaps, at least I think a part of the reason for that, is that so many of them were the product of conquest and slavery. And that really starts over many thousands of years. Subsequently, then sets the frameworks for how marriage is then seen — that this is about essentially bringing someone into your house who is a stranger and can be exploited in certain ways in very similar ways in which slaves are strangers who are taken into your house and could be exploited in certain ways. By the time, much later — so in modern states, you'd get laws around marriage that treat wives as a property of their husbands. This is where we get coveture in Europe. This principle, legal principle, that a woman belongs to her husband, her labor belongs to him, her surname should change to match his in the same way that in slave-owning societies, a slave's surname would be changed. That domestic violence against a wife is acceptable. That a woman's children don't even belong to her; they belong to her husband, to the father of the children.
[00:33:15]So all these rules mirror the kind of institutions of slavery, which of course slavery has been — captive-taking slavery has been practiced all over the world for many thousands of years and predates many of these marriage customs, but certainly became an inspiration for them. But of course, you know, as you say, we have to be very careful here because not all marriage is like slavery. There are many different degrees. And certainly, I'm married and I don't feel like I'm a slave in my marriage and that's because of how we negotiate it and the terms that we set as a society but also as individuals within our marriage — the freedom we have, the sources of support that we have. And I'm lucky that I do have many sources of support and I do have a lot of legal freedom. And so I've organized my marriage in such a way that it is very egalitarian and equal. But on the other end of that spectrum, women in forced marriages or people in forced marriages, child marriage is now categorized by the International Labour Organization as a form of modern-day slavery because it so mimics and so mirrors the institution of slavery in every other way.
[00:34:24] Adam Gamwell:Yeah. That was to me a really interesting and shocking point and a realization to come to is that like it's only more recently that we have been declaring, you know, forced marriages as forms of slavery itself. But then recognizing because the echoes of the like things like coverture or the laws themselves in terms of like lack of rights, you know, ownership, property, children, all these pieces, you know, come to be removed oftentimes from the woman in these scenarios too or that they're part of the bargain of what that merit structure might be. And so that was I think a really interesting and challenge point for us to remember that at one point, the work of both egalitarianism and liberation are ongoing. And, I mean, on one level, like it's interesting to think they kind of always will be like, but at the same time that there we may find ourselves in more plateaus of more or less equality, depending which is I think one of the challenges that you also point us towards in terms of some of the issues that we're thinking about in living memory too from the Soviet Union into the Iranian Revolution in today in the Supreme Court, overturning Roe versus Wade in the United States. And so all these different challenge points that are showing.
[00:35:30]And so one of the pieces I wanna dig into here that I found really interesting and helpful to think with too is this notion that you point out that, you know, we are social creatures. We need that form of social connection. And so at patrilocality, one of the challenges with it is that it then like basically disaggregates a woman from her kin kin group, which leads someone can lead to much easier exploitation, abuse, you know, challenges in terms of I wanna challenge the hierarchy or the system that I'm in because I have no other kind of support system. And so one of the points that you noted there too is that like this helps us we have to think about why freedom and women's liberation is really this nuanced thing that we have to think about, right, to really — 'cause you note like to be truly free is like to have no ties with anybody is actually quite risky and precarious also, right? And so 'cause that leaves us more open to kind of abuse or exploitation. So, you know, I think that like I'd like to hear your thoughts a little bit more on this too in terms of like how we need powerful networks, right? Like if we're gonna escape into something better or to actually have liberation, it's not to be totally disconnected or like freedom as in having no ties, right?
[00:36:32] Angela Saini:No, absolutely not. And it's a very, I think, particular idea of freedom that implies that real freedom is being completely individualistically independent from everyone when actually, right throughout history, you know, your safety and your security come from other people. You're only really free if you know that you are not vulnerable and you are completely safe and you need other people for that. So that is, I think, the missing piece of the puzzle when we are thinking about gender equality is that we think that, you know, a woman who is separate from the man who is abusing her is somehow completely safe. But she's not unless she has somewhere else to go to. And that is true for everyone, you know? We are all unsafe unless we have somewhere safe to go to where with people who we know are looking out for us and caring for us. And of course that's what patrilocality does. It removes us from all those systems, and that's what slavery has done. And, you know, human trafficking does, it deliberately takes you away from all those sources of support and undermines your sense of self and identity in the process in sometimes very, you know, at the extremes, in very, very brutal ways. So if then that is kind of the logic around oppression, then the answer to that cannot be to say, well, you look out for yourself and we will give you the resources to look out for yourself. It is to say that we will create a society in which you are protected and you always have somewhere to go to. That you will never feel — you should never feel that you are helpless or alone. That is the kind of society you want to create.
[00:38:18]And I worry sometimes that in the kind of, especially in the US I think, you know, I only moved here a year and a half ago. This is a very individualistic society, one which can offer so much freedom to the individual because you don't feel bound by ties necessarily of tradition or custom that you feel that you can strike out on your own. But that can leave the most vulnerable then to their own devices and forget about them in a way. It doesn't offer that same support system, which is the real tragedy of that philosophical, political principle of thinking about how society should work. You know, I was born and brought up in Europe, which does have more of a sense of responsibility for every citizen. This idea that we, you know, I hesitate to use the word "socialist" because I know how difficult that is in the United States, but certainly, soft socialism is the rule across Europe. This idea of a welfare state, of national health services, of subsidized higher education and free good quality primary and high school education, that you always have some some kind of network there provided for you if everything else fails. And I feel that that brings us closer towards what an anti-patriarchal society should be like.
[00:39:40] Adam Gamwell:I think that it's an incredibly valuable point. And that's it's one of the, you know, Teddy Roosevelt's American ideal of the rugged individual, right, of, you know, heading out onto your with your horse and your way-too-big gun and shooting buffalo as that somehow both manly and showing your individuality.
[00:40:00] Angela Saini:And but also, women have folded into that myth, you know, this idea of the pioneer woman who is tough and strong and can defend herself, which is a really unfair burden, I think, to put on people.
[00:40:12] Adam Gamwell:No, I agree with you there, too. So that is one of these interesting questions of how to help shift that narrative, right? I mean, and part of it is interesting because we're seeing a little bit on in like broader conversations in terms of things like climate change, that there's more pushes to say, well, we are in this together 'cause we have a one planet, you know? There's no planet B kind of idea. But then on top of that, you know, there's, I mean, there's a whole like subset of conversations we could get into in terms of environmental justice. But just the idea of like, it can't just be you, right? It can't just be the individual because we actually share an atmosphere minimally, right? And like, you know, how far that goes I don't totally know.
[00:40:50]But I think — 'cause one of the things I was wrestling with and thinking about this, you know, this kind of push for this individualist idea, right, is that typically, you know, we tend to see this in, you know, I'm gonna paraphrase a set of ideas here, but just like in more typical kind of American conservative thinking, that individualism is more like inoculation against like or consequences for the actions that I'm doing, right? I can do what I want, you know? And that's an interesting idea to think about because it is the alienated form of freedom I think. Like it echoes this idea that I don't have any ties that like would then affect how I can act, and you don't have any power to shape how I act, right? And that's a really interesting thing because in order to do that, obviously it's gonna require a lot of space, right, over and or like the curtailing of other people's forms of action and activity. So maybe we don't necessarily have to critique that — we can, but just like but just I think this interesting idea of like how do we build a different form of either individualist as a philosophy or to your point, like finding terms and terminology, you know, that don't make people go crazy in terms of saying socialism or communism, you know?
[00:41:55]'Cause even the two examples you bring up in terms of the Soviet Union obviously being socialist-slash-communist and then even the Iranian revolution in terms of becoming more with the Khomeini coming to power in the kind of guise of like actually even talking about more women's liberation or rights. But then, kind of going back on that to be more kind of, you know, clamped down in the name of religion. Both these pieces like I think provide really interesting challenges of like how women's liberation and feminist thinking can enter into the conversation in positive ways, but then also get turned on themselves, you know? And part of like in the Soviet Union example, you know, in terms of how it's it was used against in sort of the Kitchen Debates that you referenced to in terms of Nixon and Khrushchev of like going back and forth between saying like to be an American is to kind of be domestic, to be an American woman is to be domestic, right, versus being out in the workforce.
[00:42:46]So let's talk a little bit about that idea and like, again, as this challenge point of like how can we bring equality and liberation into the conversation but then recognize moments like this when it's gonna get pushed back in ways that we don't always expect, right, in terms of and a nationalist ideal I guess in this case for the Soviet Union and US.
[00:43:05] Angela Saini:Yeah. I do, sometimes — and of course, communism we rightly associate with brutal authoritarianism in the 20th century, and we should never forget that horrible history — but I do sometimes get surprised at this kind of visceral aversion to even the idea of socialism in the United States. And I think a lot of that is because of course that Cold War tension. We don't think about the gender aspect of that very much, but it was a very big thing at the time. The Soviet Union had positioned itself ideologically from the beginning — from the Russian Revolution onwards — as a society that was committed not just to class inequality, but to challenging gender norms. And it did that very rapidly. It was the very first country — the Soviet Union was the first country to legalize abortion. That was in 1920. It very quickly opened up higher education to men and women, including technical colleges, which is why Eastern and Central Europe still have very high rates of women in science and technology to this day. If you look at the international Olympiads, which are kind of like contests for maths and science and those kind of subjects, there are higher numbers of women and chess champions. There are higher numbers of chess champions and who are women from Eastern, Central Europe, and from Russia for exactly this reason — because gender norms were genuinely changed within a couple of generations in that region.
[00:44:35]But what happened in the US of course was that it ideologically positioned itself as the opposite of that and said, well, we are offering a society in which a domesticated woman is the ideal. And this is where you get the Kitchen Debate between Nixon-Khrushchev in I think 1959, in which at this exhibition in Moscow, Nixon is showing Khrushchev all these modern appliances that the modern-day American housewife 1950s housewife has, including a front-loading washing machine, and presenting this as an image of women's liberation. Women are liberated into the domestic, as the Founding Fathers would've put it, as Thomas Jefferson would've put it — this idea that, you know, they have all the freedom within the home. And Khrushchev looked at him and said, well, we don't treat our women as domesticated slaves like you do. It's bizarre because both men were right and wrong at the same time, you know? It's not the case that American women were all happy with being housewives, and that's why you get the feminist liberation movement very shortly after this in the 1960s. Betty Friedan documented the dissatisfaction — sometimes the really dismal dissatisfaction — of American housewives stuck at home living this kind of Groundhog Day existence. But Khrushchev as well was papering over the cracks of a society in which women were being forced to work. They didn't necessarily have the choice in which — they didn't have access to these front-loading washing machines. So that double burden often also fell on them because as much as the regime was willing to challenge public roles around gender, they didn't really challenge what happened at home within the home. So even though women were much freer to divorce, that burden of housework and childcare often still fell on them. So there were kind of shortcomings in both approaches.
[00:46:35]But I think the problem for the US was that because it ideologically placed itself as the opposite of socialism and socialism came to be associated with women's rights. To call for women's rights was to be seen to have some kind of socialist agenda, which is still there even now I think a little bit. You can still see hints of it, even in American politics today. It took a very long time then for progress to be made on that front in the US. I mean, Roe v. Wade came very late in the day. When you imagine that Soviet Union legalized abortion in 1920, why did it take the US so long to pass that kind of legislation? Why is it still struggling over it? You know, this idea of the domesticated housewife being an American ideal, being part of what it means to be American, I think still hasn't completely gone away. And this association of women's rights with socialism hasn't completely gone away. That does make it harder, I think, to make the kind of progress that has been made more easily in other states.
[00:47:41] Adam Gamwell:I mean, do you think that the — to kind of bring in the point we were talking about before too that the kind of common aversion by an American discourse around socialism is also making it harder to have conversations about like women's liberation? I mean, 'cause, you know, like it was a big topic and focus at the time. But, you know, today it's like we it's — and I guess you don't hear that as much or maybe I'll just say I don't in terms of the circles where I'm sitting, but I think this is a really interesting connection to think about too. Like is it still quietly there also? Like there is still this quiet discomfort to your point of like the domesticated woman as this American ideal, the American woman is this type of person. Is that still floating in the flotsam and jetsam of the socialism-capitalism debate? I'm just thinking out loud here. I'm wondering. I don't know.
[00:48:31] Angela Saini:I think it's it depends on where in the country you are. So I do think the ideal of the domesticated housewife is still quite alive in parts of America. But more deeply than that, this idea about, for example, childcare. Why is childcare so still so inaccessible and expensive in the United States? Why does the state not intervene more on that front? I think it comes back to that question. It comes back to that fundamental principle. And the same with welfare provision, healthcare, all these things that could make men and but particularly women much freer to live more liberated lives, to not be stuck in bad marriages, to have more kind of economic and social freedom. The state doesn't seem to want to offer any of those things, and there is a degree of social resistance to introducing those things, and I think that does come down to that fundamental debate.
[00:49:28] Adam Gamwell:We're gonna take a quick break. Just wanted to let you know that we're running ads to support the show now. We'll be right back.
[00:49:38]Yeah. It's and it's such an interesting piece that provides us both kind of an opening and a challenge point to think about how can we invent traditions in new ways that can serve more towards liberation and more towards equality. And so what's interesting is like two examples that you mentioned in the book, both from India — one of the Khasi Hills families in Meghalaya that are more matrilocal and have been fighting for this for a long time to be able to keep this, and then also in Kerala that abolished matriliny in 1976 and now has kind of flipped itself — I think are two really interesting examples to give us something else to think about in this case that I thought that the idea that there is I guess — is it actually called the Gender Park in Kerala? That's this really interesting idea. But I'd love to kind of talk a little bit about these two examples too in terms of trying to help shift people's thinking in terms of like we can see cities themselves and regions kind of flop and shift their narratives. So some interesting stuff happening in India. What's going on over here?
[00:50:40] Angela Saini:Well, there are matrilineal societies still all over the world. And in India, Kerala is very famous for being a region in which women have had relatively more freedom and agency than in other parts of India. And that is often put down to these matrilineal traditions that existed in the Nair community there, which is not some kind of backward community at all. It was a very influential royal wealthy society for many hundreds of years. But again, in the same way as happened in North America, British colonialism undermined those systems and practices legally and socially. So from the 19th century onwards or perhaps even earlier, but certainly from the 19th century onwards, you see British authorities in India taking authority away from women in these households, undermining their sexual freedom that they had over many, many decades to the point where in 1976, after the British had left — so this is after the end of colonialism — the Kerala legislature outlawed matriliny. So matriliny just wasn't allowed to be a system there anymore. And this is because, of course, in the same way as happened elsewhere, when patriarchy is introduced, people are told that this is the modern way to live and, you know, what how you were living before is backwards and you need to move forward into this more civilized way of living.
[00:52:10]And of course in the 21st century as now, gender equality is seen as the more civilized way of living in which we are thinking again about women and power. Kerala, very interestingly, has looked back at those traditions and said, well, why shouldn't we reclaim them? Why can't we think about that history again? We shouldn't be ashamed of it. We should be proud of it. So just recently, there are a number of schools in Kerala that introduced gender-neutral uniforms, widely accepted, absolutely no kind of sense that this is weird or strange. And part of the way that this was framed was that this is a return to our matrilineal roots. This is part of our traditions and — which is exactly the opposite as you see in other parts of the world in which populists and traditionalists frame gender is often in the other direction. That to be traditional is to be more patriarchal. Well, in Kerala, to be traditional is to be more matriarchal and to introduce these gender equality ideas.
[00:53:12]So this Gender Park, yeah, I was contacted by the people who run this Gender Park a few years ago. They asked me if I wanted to come and visit. I wasn't able to at that time. It was during the pandemic. But this is a kind of hub for people to look at that history, to think about the history of women and transgender people because India has a long history of transgender communities known as Hijras and kind of look at that history and explore it and study it as part of the traditions of Kerala.
[00:53:43] Adam Gamwell:And so that's like this question of tradition I think is again one of the interesting themes that runs through your book, right, is when we see different societies or city-states, groups, empires saying, this is the tradition, this is the way it is, right, one of the things you write towards the end of the book, which I really liked as maybe a part for us to close onto, is this idea that we're noting that if something is ancient history, if we're seeing the patriarch or the way that this is as ancient history, like it's tradition, it's religious, that circumscribes women's lives, then how is it possible you ask for patriarchs in the present to define what's acceptable and what isn't? And a really interesting and I think powerful question for us to think about is when these ideas these structures of power get deployed, you know, in dialogue or as through laws, right, and through ways through customs as natural, it's key I think what here you help us remind us to think about is that who's interpreting these today? Like why is it acceptable for the present to be able to kind of to determine these? And so, you know, I guess I'm thinking about this like what are you hopeful for? Like how can we — I stand with you in terms of asking we need to be asking what another world is possible. What can that world be? And so like Kerala's a really interesting example of like if we, you know, we can pull from tradition and like bring back what we see as better qualities, you know, from matriarchal forms of organization, you know? But then obviously, tradition can go the other way as you know, too, where the other people can say, I'm pulling from tradition, and we'll see in, you know, there's more conservative parts of the US parts of Europe we're seeing this, too. Even Brexit itself can point us in this direction of saying we want to be more quote, unquote traditional, which is going in other directions. So tradition is this double-edged sword it seems. But again, as you raised this point that we are seeing this is being reinterpreted. It's always being reinvented, you know, through today.
[00:55:29]And so I just like to kind of meditate on this idea with you a little bit and get a sense of what are you hopeful for, how can we learn from these ways we're seeing the multiple threads that patriarchy has come out, but then also we're seeing tradition being evoked in different ways. We're seeing the idea of what it means to be a man and woman being evoked in different ways today. What can we how can we kind of bring some of these threads together to build what it is that we may hope to see in the future?
[00:55:54] Angela Saini:I mean, we always have to remember that tradition is what we make it. It's not as though anything has existed forever and we're just calling upon that. And that's why people with religious authority or scientific authority, when they start to proclaim what is natural or what is divine, has so much power over us because then we start to think, well, that's how we should be. That's how we should be living. And we are thankfully in a time — and this is what a lot of my work is about, my previous two books were looking at the ways in which scientists have kind of held forth on what is natural in very biased and political ways that didn't tally with the evidence that only served to reinforce existing power structures. And we should be suspicious of anyone who tries to do that, who calls on an authority bigger than themselves in order to tell us what how we should live or what we should and shouldn't do. And the ideal society for me would be one in which we can question everything, in which we build our own traditions, in which we're not afraid to do that.
[00:56:54]Because at the moment, we're in a world in which that is already happening, but it's happening by a particular set of people in power, by the religious authorities, by, you know, those at the very peak of society, those with the most status and authority who are able to tell us. But we are all able to be part of that project. There's no reason why we can't all decide how we want to live and build a society on those principles. Nothing should be sacred, in my opinion. We should be able to question absolutely everything. And what I fear is we've lost the ability to do that. One because those in power have so much control over us, but also because we are also scared of losing our cultures and customs and traditions and religions. And as committed as we may feel we are to equality, we are also committed to other things in which inequality is woven. And to let go of inequality would mean letting go of some of those. And that's a very difficult proposition for people. It is not an easy thing to say to someone. You have to rethink everything. You have to let go of your ideas about marriage and the family and democracy and capitalism and the state — absolutely everything in order to build the fairer society that you want. And that's why, you know, by the end of the book, I was still uncertain about whether reform or revolution is the way ahead. Because revolutions often don't work for exactly those reasons, and reform is slow. It takes generations and it's frustrating and heartbreaking sometimes because who wants to have to wait for their great, great, great great grandchildren to get the society that they want?
[00:58:38] Adam Gamwell:Amen to that too 'cause it is I think an important piece, right, 'cause it is it's that the revolution can be sexy, but obviously, it's also often violent and doesn't stick, right? Because it's an upthrowing, right? But then, things will tend to kind of settle, leaning back into what people knew. So I think that — I mean, you know, for my uneducated mind, this is what I think that that's also like I think we have to lean into in this sense where it is that like this is it's a gradual change and that it's gonna require piecemeal change over time, right? And so even to your point you made that we're seeing the shift that gender equality is more kind of a common form of discourse we're seeing more and more in parts of the globe. I mean, it is an interesting and positive sign to help us think in that direction. But also, you're right that, you know, changing a regime of power is difficult and even like, yeah, I'm glad you mentioned the two other books that you've done more recently in terms of Superior in terms of like race, the return of race and science, and Inferior of how science tends to get women wrong, right, how we're kind of building these natural discourses in terms of what and why the world is the way that it is. And so I think as you said it, that, you know, if it's perhaps helping spread the message that, you know, a nice way of saying nothing is sacred, that we should be able to question, you know, all forms of power and question, you know, what it is what kind of world do we want? And recognize that it's gonna require us to ask hard question of, you know, what are the structures that keep our world the way it is. It's interesting. Yeah, and so it's — I appreciate the work. So I wanna say thank you for writing it and being brave in putting it out 'cause I know it is like it's a tough piece because it's big. We're like we traveled 9,000 plus years, you know, in this book to get a sense of what we're seeing. And then, but again, I appreciate the way that you would historicize why we're seeing the interpretations that we're seeing, pointing out back when and why gender is a part of the conversation that we may not think it we didn't realize that it was or we have forgotten today because we either weren't there or, you know, recognizing that this is how people wanted to interpret what it was that they were seeing and why that's important and why that matters. Because that still is an important interpretation that we're seeing. But then today, gives us I think gives us some hope that, you know, we can question that which we see and that which we inherit and, you know, what that could be next.
[01:00:56]So just wanna thanks for taking the time to chat with me today on the podcast. This has been fun. I'm excited to share the episode and the book with the audience. And I know folks will get a lot out of it, so thanks for doing all the stuff that you do.
[01:01:08] Angela Saini:Thank you so much. And thank you for reading it so carefully. I can tell that you really engaged with it, so thank you. I appreciate that.
[01:01:15] Adam Gamwell:My pleasure, you know, 'cause it is — this work merits like digging into, you know? It's part of it.
[01:01:21] Angela Saini:Appreciate it. Thank you.
[01:01:24] Adam Gamwell:Thanks once again to Angela Saini for joining me on the podcast today. You can check out links to her books, includingThe Patriarchsin the show notes.
[01:01:32]We covered a lot of ground today. Lots to think. One thing that Angela said that really stuck with me is this: the ideal society for me would be one in which we can question everything, in which we build our own traditions, in which we're not afraid to do that. And today's conversation for me not only illuminated how we can take an evidence-based approach to break down big, challenging topics like patriarchy, but also how we can think big about what form of society we'd like to continue or reinvent or totally change for ourselves and our children.
[01:02:04]I'm curious to hear your takeaways. What ideas resonated with you, challenged your thinking, or did you find yourself wanting to jump in the conversation at any point? Please get in touch over on the TAL contact page, on social media, or in the Anthrocurious Substack. And thank you as always for sharing your energy with me. If you get something out of the show or blog, please consider becoming a paid subscriber on our Substack. Subscribers there support both the podcast and the blog. And a huge thank you to those of you who have been able to share so far. I really appreciate it and it means the world to me that we can keep building together. So on that note, I hope you stay well. I'm your host, Adam Gamwell, and you're listening to This Anthro Life.
Author and Journalist
Angela Saini is an award-winning journalist based in New York, known globally for her work on race and gender. She has presented science programmes on BBC radio and television, and her writing has appeared in National Geographic, Wired, the Lancet and Nature.
She is the author of four books, including Superior: The Return of Race Science, which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, which has been translated into fourteen languages. Both are on university reading lists across the world. Her latest book The Patriarchs, on the origins of patriarchy, has been hailed as a highlight for 2023 by the Financial Times, Guardian and New Statesman.
Angela has a Masters in Engineering from the University of Oxford and has been a Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Humboldt Foundation in Berlin. In 2020 she was named one of the world’s top 50 thinkers by Prospect magazine. She has delivered distinguished lectures and keynotes at Oxford, Yale, Princeton and CERN in Geneva.
Here are some great episodes to start with.