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Matriarchal Societies

Studies on Indigenous Cultures Across the Globe

Heide Göttner-Abendroth

This book presents the results of Heide Goettner-Abendroth’s pioneering research in the field of modern matriarchal studies, based on a new definition of «matriarchy» as true gender-egalitarian societies. Accordingly, matriarchal societies should not be regarded as mirror images of patriarchal ones, as they have never needed patriarchy’s hierarchical structures of domination. On the contrary, matriarchal patterns are socially egalitarian, economically balanced, and politically based on consensus decisions. They have been created by women and are founded on maternal values. This new perspective on matriarchal societies is developed step by step by the analysis of extant indigenous cultures in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.


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Chapter 1. A Critical History of Perspectives on Matriarchy 1


A Critical History of Perspectives on Matriarchy 1 The history of research on matriarchy since the 18th century is not so much a story as it is a series of starts and stops whose repeated “beginnings” keep disappearing into the shadows of history. The thread of this history keeps breaking off, pieces of the narrative seem to go nowhere, lines of argument are not followed up—or are, in western science, eliminated completely. Nevertheless an undercurrent of knowledge about matriarchal forms of soci- ety exists, incorporating work from various scientific branches. But the existence of more than 150 years of research and discussion on the subject of matriarchy is not generally known about, and when it does make a rare appearance, is quickly silenced with contempt or ridicule. These unusual circumstances raise the question of what is actually at work here. It appears that researchers—at least the traditional ones—must have dis- covered something terrible, something that threatens to breach their patriarchal worldview. If they were to follow the logical consequences of their discoveries, they would have to abandon this worldview. And in the patriarchally-influ- enced „scientific community“ their prestige would be on the line, they would become isolated and possibly even lose their jobs, if they stood by their discov- eries. So they rescind their findings, invalidating their results by reframing them 2_Goettner_Abendroth ch 1 thru 5 NEW_t5 2/28/2012 9:56 AM Page 1 in theoretical constructs designed to save the patriarchal paradigm of society...

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