“First there was the Word, then Came Civilisation: How Fiction Structures the Reality of Predation and Violence”
Abstract: How we inhabit space, how we live in it and with the other living and nonliving beings ultimately depends on whether we see the world as wild, existing for its own sake or whether we understand existence as a food chain, where everything exists for the purpose of consumption: to eat someone else or be eaten by someone else. In this conversation, Layla AbdelRahim will discuss how our stories of origins explain the existence of things on earth and thereby structure our relationships with each other and across species with the world. Based on the research done for her book, Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education (Fernwood, May 2013), the ontological premises in our fundamental anthropological narratives justify coercive relationships of dominance and splinter our sense of community with our environment. In this sense, what and how we “consume” is intimately intertwined both with our stories of origins and with the domestication of sexuality thereby structuring a culture of predatory socio-economic relationships that manifests itself as a culture of rape, carnivorism, exploitation of human and nonhuman “resources”, and forced, obligatory schooling.
Layla AbdelRahim is an author, comparatist and anthropologist. She offers a critique of civilization from an interdisciplinary perspective that includes such fields as literature, medical anthropology, ethology, ecology and education.