Chris Knight

Chris Knight is a British anthropologist and high-profile political activist. He became a lecturer in anthropology at the University of East London in 1989 and a professor at the same institution in 2000. Knight is a founding member of the Radical Anthropology Group (RAG). 

Knight published his first book, Blood Relations: Menstruation and the origins of culture in 1991. Since then, he has been a major figure in debates on the origins of human symbolic culture and especially the origin of language. He is best-known for the theory that human language, religion and culture emerged in our species not simply by gradual Darwinian evolution, but in a process culminating in revolutionary social change – what is often termed “the first human revolution”.

Initially a supporter of the Militant tendency, Chris Knight was later a founding editor of the journal Labour Briefing, where he remains on the board.

Latest articles by Chris Knight

Art of revolution

Chris Knight discusses the significance of Leon Trotsky’s Lessons of October and the implications in the event of a Corbyn-led Labour government

An anti-militarist’s moral dilemmas

Despite being employed by an institution responsible for advanced weapons research, writes Chris Knight, Noam Chomsky had a political conscience that refused to lie down

Two Noam Chomskys

Chris Knight discusses his new book, where he contrasts Chomsky, the principled political activist, with Chomsky, the military researcher

Origin of language lies in song

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group examines one of science’s most intriguing unsolved problems. This is an edited transcript of a talk given to Communist University in August 2015

If Labour wins in 2020

There are many lessons to be drawn from the experience of revolutionary Russia and contemporary Britain. Chris Knight looks back at what he wrote in 1969

What can chimpanzees teach us about human nature?

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group explores the relationship between sex, language and culture

Anthropology: Luxemburg was right

How do Rosa Luxemburg’s ideas on primitive communism stand up today? This is an edited version of a speech given by Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group to this month’s Historical Materialism conference

Why is the left so afraid of science?

Our struggle to overcome capitalism requires solid scientific foundations, argues Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group

Elaine Morgan: Debt of gratitude

Chris Knight remembers the woman who saw off the ‘savanna hypothesis’

Anthropology and women: Genetic evidence is richer than the stale party line

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group investigates the SWP’s impoverished debate on the Marxist theory of women’s oppression

Supplement: Early human kinship was matrilineal

Engels was right, says Chris Knight

World-historic defeat of women

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group examines myths about a supposed "primitive matriarchy"

The pope and the Pentagon

How is it that Noam Chomsky's latest linguistic theories can acquire such a devoted following? Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group continues his examination of Chomsky's life and work

Extraordinary double-act of Noam Chomsky

When the brain reached a certain level of complexity or when a mutation took place in the genetic instructions it received, the facility for language was installed. This is the myth which suited both the US military-industrial complex and Chomsky's anarcho-syndicalism. Chris Knight examines the paradox

Anti-Marxist myth of our time

Chris Knight examines Noam Chomsky's 'scientific' fairy tales about language and its origins

Giving internationalism new meaning

The Liverpool dockers' March for Social Justice took place 10 years ago, on April 12 1997. Chris Knight of the London Dockers Support Group, who acted as the main link with the Reclaim the Streets movement, looks back at the dockers' historic fight

Chomsky's parallel lives

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group concludes his examination of a political enigma

US establishment anarchist

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group continues his examination of the Chomsky enigma

The Chomsky enigma

How is that a powerful critic of US imperialism has been regarded as a valued asset by the US military? In the first of three articles Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group begins his examination of the life and work of Noam Chomsky

Lessons of October

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group looks at how the Bolsheviks combined illegality and legality

Marxism and scientific revolutions

How are scientific paradigms established? And what does this mean for the politics of the working class? Chris Knight examines the issues

The science of Marxism

Is scientific objectivity compromised by a subordination to the interests of the international working class? Chris Knight examines the issues

Solidarity and sex

The first human revolution was led by women, argues Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group

The science of solidarity

Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group looks at the 'selfish gene' revolution - and draws some rather different conclusions from moralistic liberals