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Home » Anansi, Loki, And Why We Love Trickster Myths: Emily Zobel Marshall (Transcript)

Anansi, Loki, And Why We Love Trickster Myths: Emily Zobel Marshall (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Emily Zobel Marshall’s talk titled “Anansi, Loki, And Why We Love Trickster Myths” at TEDxLeedsBeckettUniversity conference.

In her TEDx talk “Anansi, Loki, and Why We Love Trickster Myths,” Emily Zobel Marshall explores the universal appeal of trickster figures, such as Anansi from West African folklore and Loki from Norse mythology. She explains that tricksters are often small, cunning creatures who use intelligence over strength to challenge more powerful beings.

Marshall highlights the trickster’s role in storytelling and their ability to navigate and disrupt societal norms and boundaries. Focusing on Anansi, she discusses how the character evolved from West African to Caribbean contexts, symbolizing resistance and survival strategies among enslaved peoples. Marshall also touches on the trickster’s role in contemporary culture, suggesting that these figures teach us alternative ways of communication and challenge conventional societal structures.

She connects her personal interest in tricksters to her family background, including her anarchist father and her grandfather’s experiences in a Caribbean plantation environment. Marshall concludes by contemplating the trickster’s potential to both inspire change and caution against the allure of anarchic rebellion.

Listen to the audio version here:


What is it about the trickster figure that fascinates us so much? What is it about these small, amoral, sometimes sinister creatures that turn the table on the powerful, that captivates us through the ages?

First of all, let me tell you what I’m talking about when I say a trickster figure. A trickster is often a small creature, like a spider or a hare, who turns the table on their stronger opponents, using their brains rather than their brawn, so they’re using their intelligence rather than their muscle.

They do this through their linguistic dexterity, through their storytelling. They are wonderful performers; they are wonderful liars. The trickster will do anything to ensure that they remain on top. We have a variety of tricksters in our culture.

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