(Book Summary) Matriarchal Studies: Studies on Indigenous Cultures across the Globe by Heide Goettner-Abendroth

Bringing the world back into balance means creating equilibrium and peace at every level: between the genders, the generations, different social groups, and different peoples. Over the past decades a new socio-cultural science offering definitive insights for this process has been developed: research on matriarchal societies, known as modern Matriarchal Studies.

Widespread misconceptions about matriarchy notwithstanding, women’s strong position does not mean that matriarchies are women’s autocratic rule. Contrary to this, matriarchal societies are based on gender equality. Their social rules have developed out of thousands of years of experience, and demonstrate a perfectly balanced relationship between women’s and men’s spheres of action. All political decisions are reached through consensus among community members, and insightful, thoroughly worked out principles and social guidelines ensure that unanimity will eventually be achieved on each issue. The resulting social structure is non-violent, and enables a good life for all.

This book is the basic mainwork on modern Matriarchal Studies. It gives the philosophical and theoretical foundation of this new field of knowledge, the matriarchy paradigm of human history and society.

At first the history of research on matriarchy is briefly given, in its various contexts and academic disciplines. It sheds new light on old theories, and re-evaluates newer theories in light of modern Matriarchal Studies.  The chapter ends with a brief review of various feminist and indigenous approaches to matriarchy research. They differ fundamentally from traditional matriarchy research, both in their ideological criticism of patriarchy and their liberative context.

In the main part, the complete and detailed new definition of matriarchy, which presents the deep structure of this form of society, is given, a definition which was missing in traditional research on this subject.

Based on a vast case-by-case cross-cultural research, the structures and guidelines that function across all levels of matriarchal societies are elaborated. This has been done by investigating and presenting most of the still existing matriarchal societies across the continents of Asia, South and North America, and  Africa, which exhibit a fascinating richness of matriarchal forms and patterns.  The focus is not only on the microstructures of matriarchal societies, i. e. the guidelines and customary practices that make up family and clan systems, but also on their macrostructures, i.e. the institutions that refer to larger social structures, which can even extend beyond one single matriarchal people to encompass connections of several matriarchal peoples.


Topics include:

Introduction: Philosophy and Methodology of Modern Matriarchal Studies

Part I

Chapter 1:   A Critical History of Perspectives on Matriarchy

Chapter 2:   Matriarchy in North-Eastern India

Chapter 3:   Matriarchal Cults in Nepal

Chapter 4:   Ancient Queens Realms, and Group Marriage in Tibet

Chapter 5:   Matriarchal Mountain Peoples of China

Chapter 6:   Women Shamans in Korea

Chapter 7:   The Islands of Japan:  Women’s Cultures of the South and North

Chapter 8:  “Alam Minangkabau” – the world of the Minangkabau in Indonesia

Chapter 9:   Matriarchal Patterns in Melanesia

Chapter 10  Pacific Ocean Cultures


Part II

Chapter 11: Matriarchal Cultures in South America

Chapter 12: The Spread of Matriarchy to Central America

Chapter 13: North America: Matriarchal Immigrants from the South

Chapter 14: North America: At the Cultural Crossroads of South and North

Chapter 15: Matriarchy in South India

Chapter 16: Ancient Matriarchy in Central Africa

Chapter 17: Matriarchal Queen-Kingship in West Africa

Chapter 18: Matriarchal Pastoral Peoples in North Africa

(This book was published in English in New York 2013, Peter Lang publishing house. The Spanish version is license free, by contract with Peter Lang.)

(Meet Mago Contributor) Heide Goettner-Abendroth.

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The book sounds wonderful but I have a problem with the word matriarchy because we are a patriarchal world culture and this word suggests the opposite of patriarchy… hence, resistance.