In all there have been four congresses on matriarchal studies carried
out by the director of HAGIA International Academy; Heide Göttner Abendroth, whereof three together with Genevieve Vaughan,                                       director of the Gift Economy Institute

 

 

Conference on Matriarchal Politics, St. Gallen / Switzerland 2011

"THE TIME IS RIPE"

 

International Conference, Toronto 2009
A (M)otherworld is Possible: Two Feminist Visions
Matriarchal Studies
The Gift Economy

 

 

The two World Congresses

At two World Congresses, modern Matriarchal Studies and their results were presented to a wider, international public.

 

The presentations at both Congresses on Matriarchal Studies demonstrate a new research area that has effectively become a socio-cultural science in its own right, and which now emerges as a new paradigm of human history and society.

 

2nd World Congress on Matriarchal Studies, San Marcos / USA 2005

"SOCIETIES OF PEACE"

 

1st World Congress on Matriarchal Studies, Luxembourg 2003

"SOCIETIES IN BALANCE"

Lecturers of the Congress

Panel 1:

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Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth (Germany)

 

Theory and Politics of Matriarchal Societies

Matriarchal Societies and Modern Research on Matriarchy

 

The lack of a viable, scientific definition and the misunderstanding that "matriarchy" means "rule by women" has contributed to an ideological prejudice towards the term, which leads to a serious distortion of, and blindness towards, this subject. In consequence, matriarchal societies – predominant in early history and still existing today – have not been recognized in most cases, or have not been adequately distinguished from those that are merely matrilineal. Matriarchal societies are always matrilineal, and in these societies the means of livelihood rest in women's hands. Women's strong position in these cultures is counterbalanced by that of the men, so that no gender dominates the other one.

 

In my presentation I will outline the new definition of matriarchy, which characterizes the deep structure of this form of society; that is, the way it affects all levels of society as well as its economic, social, political, and spiritual contexts. I have developed this characterization based on my cross-cultural research into still existing matriarchies all over the world. Matriarchies will be shown to be economically balanced, egalitarian in the relationship between genders and generations, and as consensus-based societies in their politics. Matriarchal peoples have developed a system of very wise principles and social codes allowing humans to live in peace with each other and in harmony with nature.

 
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Prof. Claudia von Werlhof (Austria)

 

The Utopia of a Motherless World - Patriarchy as `War-System'

 

At the "1st World Congress on Matriarchal Studies" in Luxemburg in 2003, I presented a paper on "Patriarchy as Negation of Matriarchy. The Perspective of a Delusion". Starting from there I want to concentrate on the fact that patriarchy did not appear in the world as such, but did develop in time and is still developing today. The typical mechanisms that have been and are used for the development of patriarchal society are defined as such that seem to overcome and "replace" matriarchal societies by something supposedly "better", "more developed", and spiritually "higher".

 

This way we can define patriarchy as the utopia of a motherless world that wants to become "concrete" and is indeed becoming concrete in modernity and with capitalism, especially. The analysis leads to the idea of patriarchy as a social "system" in contrast to matri- archal societies that did not develop into "systems". Furthermore, patriarchy finally has to be defined even as "war- system", in which war has always more become the main principle of social organization, economy, policies, technology, science and the relationship with nature, gender and the future.

 

The dynamics of especially western society's development into a closed war-system is felt today more than ever before, as globalization, the last phase of patriarchy, turns always more into globalized war on all levels of life. This fact is confronting us with the necessity to break with patriarchal thinking, feeling and acting immediately, if we want to continue life on earth.

 

 
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Genevieve Vaughan (USA)

 

Matriarchy vs. the Market

 

Mothering has been contrasted with fathering, due to the binary reasoning of our society. However, perhaps an even more significant, though less familiar, contrast exists between mothering and market exchange. Two opposing logics are involved, a transitive logic of gift giving and an intransitive logic of giving to receive an equivalent: exchange.

 

Behaving according to these logics creates subjectivities, which are socially identified with gender, but can actually be located in either male or female bodies. The manhood agenda in Patriarchy imposes goals, which are consonant with the market and opposed to gift giving/mothering. The female identity is directed towards caring for the artificially constructed male identity. The interactions between the socially constructed genders are transposed into the market interactions between invisible gift giving and exchange.

 

While exchange appears to be fair and equal it is actually supported by many disguised gifts.

 

A recent book by psychiatrist Stephen Ducat, The Wimp Factor, emphasizes the psychological syndrome of hyper masculinity and femophobia, which motivate the destruction of mothering policies, which might be seen as paths towards Matriarchal ways. It is important to understand and heal these pathological patterns in order to eliminate them from electoral politics as well as from the distribution of goods in order to create societies of peace.


 
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Panel 2:

Present Matriarchal Societies - North America and Oceania

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dr. Barbara Alice Mann

 

Bear Clan of the Ohio Seneca, Iroquois (USA)

 

"They Are the Soul of the Councils."

The Iroquoian Model of Woman-Power

 

 

Woman-power may be a new cultural idea among Europeans and their descendants, but it is an old and mature idea among the Native Americans, especially those east of the Mississippi River. All eastern Nations recognized the political, economic, spiritual, and social roles of Clan Mothers as the power brokers of their people, but, in the twelfth century, the Iroquois wrote those roles directly into their Constitution.

 

In fact, by law, the men's councils may not consider a matter that has not been discussed by the women and forwarded to them by the women's consensus. Given the boggling implications of this power structure, the Iroquoian Constitution is careful to clarify that men have the same rights as women. When the early American feminists learned of this legal set-up – and they picked up on it in colonial times – they held up the Iroquoian Gantowisas, of Official Woman, as their model of the possible. She remains the model of the possible, to this day, as my talk will show.

 

 

 

Jeannette C. Armstrong

 

Syilx, Okanagan (Canada)

The Syilx (Okanagan) Principles of Coexistence

 

In my own reflections and research into the traditions of my Syilx (Okanagan) People, I have come to some insights about the society of my people, both in the contemporary sense as well as in the historical sense. I wish to share information on the principles imbedded within our traditional cultural process that I believe allows us to survive intentional annihilation as a culture.

 

I perceive those principles as a process that continues to guide our recovery and mend our interactions with each other as individuals, as family, as community and as a part of the land, however fragmented by being continuously colonized. It is my observation that a conscientious attending to the principle of N'ha'ils, as a practice of total respect and the recovery and practice of it allows a culture to grow and the people to flourish.

 

I have come to understand that "respect" as an English word is inadequate to describe a philosophical worldview perfected over millennia of healthy coexistence with other life forms in an extremely fragile ecosystem. I have come to understand that "reverence" may be a word which more closely describes the principles of an "enlightened" interaction with all other life forms and which sustains peace, egalitarianism and reciprocity.

 

I also wish to share the principle of "En'owkinwixw" as a societal imperative for N'ha'ils to be a reality through a collaboration seeking process when applied by family or community and a critical framework for unbiased inquiry when applied by the individual.

(Mililani B. Trask (Hawaii)

 

About the Polynesian People

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Taimalie Kiwi Tamasese

 

(Samoa, New Zealand)

 

Restoring Liberative Elements of our Cultural Gender Arrangements

 

 

This presentation will explore the notions of "Gender Arrangements" and "Cultural Liberative Elements" on which we can grow cultures of respect and honour for generations to come. The exploration will identify historical impacts and the consequent devaluation of the status of women. It will also explore the restoration of Liberative Gender Arrangements within families, communities, cultures and societies.

 

 
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Panel 3

Present Matriarchal Societies - Central and South America

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Prof. Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen (Germany)

 

Matriarchal Principles for Today Economies and Societies:

What We Can Learn from Juchitán

 

Juchitán is a town in southern Mexico. Its 100 000 inhabitants belong to the ethnic group of the Isthmus Zapotecs, with about 350 000 people living in the coastal plains of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

My knowledge about this group is based on empirical research during several visits since 1983 including a one year lasting research period in 1990/91. The juchitecan society is a matriarchal one. Despite of being an indigenous group, juchitecans are well nourished and relatively wealthy, whereas normally ‘indigenous' and ‘poor' are nearly synonyms. This wealth is due to a well functioning regional economy which is the result of the work of the woman traders.

 

How is the maintenance of a regional market exchange system possible in times of such an aggressive globalization of every market like we are confronted with today? This question arises more so, as Mexico is a pilot third world country concerning the internationalization of a national economy and even more so, as the Isthmus is already geographically very open to world trade routes.

 

In my lecture the principles that reproduce the juchitecan economy and society as matriarchal ones will be described and it will be asked whether and in which form this example could be valid for the transformation of the globalized society in other areas of the world into non patriarchal regional ones.

 

 

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Marina Meneses (Juchitán, Mexico)

 

About the Life of a Juchitecan Mother

 

Matriarchy is there but nobody speaks about it. 

Secret because of the caholic church and colonialism.

 

Rosa Martha Toledo, Juchiteca (Mexico)

 

The Life Cycle of the Juchiteca

 
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Dona Enriqueta Contreras, Zapoteca (Oaxaca, Mexico),

 

The Sierra Juarez Zapotecs of Oaxaca as a Cultural Matriarchy

 

When the Spanish first arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1521, they brought along with their firearms, horses and diseases a worldview that would virtually destroy and subdue the matriarchal society that was known as the Zapotecs, self referred to as "the Cloud People." Our pre-columbian culture was devoted to the reverence of Nature and the equality of gender, as evidenced by the presence and respect for female as well as male shamans. And, primogeniture included females in the lineage.

 

Our Gods were aspects of nature such as clouds "Za" and lightning "Pitao." Despite the fact that our respect for the divinity of nature was overlaid by European Christian ideals that were male-centered and patriarchal, our regard for the sanctity of Nature, and our imperative connection to it has survived the holocaust of that first fateful meeting five centuries ago.

 

We continue to revere Nature and renew our bond as a commitment to the Sacred Mother Earth. Inspite of our ostensible poverty and extremely limited resources, we the Zapotecs continue to live close to the Earth on a daily basis and we honor the Mother, the Clouds, Lightning and Rainbows through our medicine ways of midwifery, spiritual healing and Nature consciousness.

 

 
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Antje Olowaili (Germany)

 

"Goldmother Created her Children on Earth" – The Kuna Culture

 

They live on small Caribbean islands at the coast of Panama. Their songs are about prophetesses who had been descending to the earth on golden plates, bringing culture to them. That's why the Kuna name themselves "the Golden People". They form a very close, politically semi- independent community, which celebrates every single girl.

 

Although the Kuna men go hunting and fishing and provide all the food, it's the women who distribute it and rule the house. Since matrimony is matrilocal, the eldest mother in the clan has most of the power. A woman will never lose her home. Due to the absence of privacy, there is no domestic violence.

 

Children are in the center of family life. Old people get a lot of respect. The puberty rite, or other rites for girls, is always held by wise women. Men gather in the prayer house called "congress"and do politics. They become chieftain, arranger or ritual translater. It's a strictly seperated power sphere where both women and men have their own
roles.

Mariela de la Ossa, Kuna (Kuna Yala, Panama)

 

The Role of Women in Kuna Society

Carolyn Heath

 

Women and Power: the Shipibo of the Upper Amazon

 

The matriarchal society, which has been shaped largely by women, has long been a neglected area for academic study. Such a group is exemplified by the Shipibo, an indigenous group of the Upper Amazon.

 

 

My presentation will explore the power relations between Shipibo men and women to discover contributing factors to the unique self-confidence of Shipibo women. Angelika Gebhart-Sayer (1984 : 22) asserts that "Shipibo women enjoy more rights, freedom, individual fulfilment and spontaneity than women of other cultures may ever dream of."

 

To test the veracity of this affirmation I propose to explore the spheres of power of Shipibo women on four levels : family power, economic power, political power and spiritual power. One of the aims of this exercise is to determine in what way Shipibo women might contribute to enriching Western concepts of what it means to be a woman.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Angela Dolmetsch (Colombia)

 

Political Significance of the Gift Paradigm for Feminist Transformation

Mothering Values as the Source of Sustainable Eco Village Building

See more at: http://gift-economy.com/
Eco village

 

Panel 4

 

Present Matriarchal Societies - North Africa

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Prof. Hélène Claudot-Hawad (France)

 

"Woman the Central Pillar of Society"

The Representation of Gender among the Tuareg (Imajaghen), Sahara

 

 

What does it mean today in Tuareg society to be a woman or a man? What images, roles and standards, what reciprocal rights ad duties, what social and symbolic functions, are evoked by these categories?

 

This lecture will try to convey their nature, their significance and their modern manifestations by replacing them in the contexts from which they grew and changed, an original nomadic society that gives to the "feminine" a pre-eminent role.

 

The Tuareg promote a woman-centered pattern based on several principles - the necessity of diversity, contradiction and balance creating social dynamism - that finally contradict the theory of an universal male dominance over women.

 

 

 

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Fatimata welet Halatine, Imajaghen, Tuareg (Central Sahara)

 

Renouncing Privileges: a Tuareg Woman in Modern Times

 

 
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Dr. Malika Grasshoff, Kabyle, Berber (Algeria/Germany)

 

The Central Position of Women among the Berber People of Northern Africa, exemplified by Kabyle Women.

 

The Berbers are known as the oldest people of Northern Africa and are still today living in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. For a time, they were Christianized, but later became Moslems due to the conquest of Northern Africa by the Arabs. However, the Berbers of Kabylia (Algeria) have retained many of their pre-Islamic customs.

 

The traditional arts of the Kabyle women, such as pottery and weaving, are still accompanied by rites and practices which do not emphasise the differences between humans and nature, but serve to build and contribute to the magical relationships and unity of the two.

 

Social life is based on a model of mutual support which requires relatives to accept responsibilities for each other, which extends across the entire community. The difference between genders and their different tasks and roles do not result in a power-relationship between men and women.

 

The cosmology of the Kabyle women is closely connected to their art, and is expressed in the ornamentation of ceramics and weavings. Through their alignment the ornaments constitute a secret language among women, for the motifs are directly related to femininity and fertility. This secret script is exclusively passed on from mother to daughter.

Panel 5

Present Matriarchal Societies – West and South Africa

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Prof. Wilhelmina Donkoh »

 

Female Leadership among the Asante

 

The Asante constitute one of the principal groups of the matrilineal Akan-speaking people of the modern state of Ghana. An identifying characteristic of the Akan is descent through the female line. Traditionally, such important social and economic institutions as ownership property and inheritance are based on blood affiliation to the matrilineage. Females among the Akan thus are expected to play a unique role in ensuring the perpetuation of the lineage and in identifying who qualifies to be a member. At the same time, as could be found in other traditional societies, social, economic and political responsibilities usually tend to be gender-bound.

 

This lecture confirms that female leaders among the Asante indeed play a central role within the Asante socio-political system. An examination of specific cases in the history of Asante reveals that where female leaders transcended the gender boundaries, as diplomats or political heads, their actions tended to foster greater social cohesion. Also, through literature review and theoretical analysis the lecture establishes that despite stereotypical views that women only play mundane roles and are mere reproductive units, where women leaders have exerted themselves they have brought distinction and honour upon themselves as well as on their entire lineage and the wider community that they belonged to.

Gad Agyako Osafo, Akan (Ghana/Germany)

 

Akan Healing Heritage – an Overview

 

The traditional medicine of the Akan of Ghana is traceable as far back as 4000 years. Together with the traditional medicine of the other ethnic groups in the country, today it is the only readily available help for over 50% of the population in cases of imbalances in health (dis-ease). This ancestral medicine is not only closely bound to and integrated in the culture, but it is also intrinsically associated with the Akan religious believes. Characteristically it exhibits two procedural components: the spiritual/psychic aspect and the actual process of applying material medicine. The custodian of this heritage in the matrilineal group is the Obaapanying / Aberewa (the elderly woman) who simultaneously is the direct or indirect spiritual head of the family.

 

In this lecture I will give an overview of the main pillars of the traditional Akan medicine, explain how it has survived and why it still plays an invaluable role in the lives of many Ghanaians despite the onslaught from foreign cultures.
 
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Pract. med. Cécile Keller (Switzerland)

 

Medicine in Matriarchal Societies

 

In matriarchal societies medicine is holistic and is based on experiential knowledge. The methods include both the treatment of the body and the guidance of the soul and consciousness. Within the context of a healing ritual, medical substances and physiological techniques find application. On the other hand self-healing processes of psycho-somatic and spirit-soul based orders are being stimulated through the medium of the "soul-search". In this process the whole mythology and cosmology of the prevailing matriarchal culture is being activated which will reconnect persons seeking healing positively to their own world view. Reinforcing this process is the fact that the healing ritual is integrated within the social community which participates in a sympathetic and active manner. This not only conveys an experience of security, but collective problems can be treated.

 

The medical organisations in matriarchal societies will be portrayed with examples, especially the example of the women's medical associations of the Iroquois. These associations do not only protect medical wisdom and knowledge, but each of them has a particular cosmological correlation and a specific kind of healing ritual which corresponds to the cosmological concepts. This produces a spiritual-cosmological order among all of the associations which expresses their matriarchal world view.

leiterinnen

Dr. Yvette Abrahams, Khoekhoe (Namibia, South Africa)

 

Living in Our Natural World: Indigenous Women, Power and Knowledge

 

One of the problems with researching gender relations amongst the Khoekhoe (South African indigenous people) is that there is surprisingly little in source material, such as contemporary diaries, travel writings, and archived government documents, about gender relations. Nor is there much oral history. Here, 250 years of slavery lie like a sword between our knowledge of who we were before colonialism and who we are now.

 

Another reason is that Khoekhoe society was classless at the time of colonization. This means, for instance, that there were no developed systems of cheiftaincies and therefore no highly visible women chiefs or queens with whom the colonizers were forced to interact. A classless society was practically invisible to the people who left written records, because they had grown up in a society where the principle of hierarchy was so ingrained so as to render any other system unthinkable. If you cannot think it you cannot see it or speak it, and indeed there is a tendency amongst the written records to read hierarchy into events and people where there is none.

 

At this point you can reach conclusions about Khoekhoe matriarchies deductively but seldom through direct evidence. In this sense what we need to do is much more like archeology, than history: we need to develop far-reaching conclusions on comparatively scanty evidence. My lecture is part of an exploration towards a different methodology. It will look at Khoekhoe women and indigenous plants. There is quite a lot of source material on the uses of various economic plants. Because most of the plants, except those having to do with hunting, were the domain of women's knowledge, we can find out quite a lot about Khoekhoe women by studying what they knew. In this way we shall get a more exact picture of women's position in Khoekhoe society.
 
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Bernedette Muthien, Khoisan (South Africa)

 

Beyond Patriarchy and Violence: the Khoisan and Partnership

 

Violence and inequity are inextricably tied to patriarchy, and the dominator system. Cultural systems of patriarchy and domination are very prevalent at this time, but are not inevitable. Pre-patriarchal societies, such as the Khoisan of Southern Africa, are examples of harmonious, gender-continuous, nonviolent lifestyles, which can be used to construct alternative models to violence and inequity. This research will harness lessons from partnership societies like the Khoisan, and show how we can move forward from our present conditions to a more equitable and less violent society.

 

My presentation will draw on the many lessons embedded in Khoisan culture which can be adapted to reduce current violence and improve present society. Historical records, and modern texts, reflect numerous examples of the Khoisan's originally peaceful, non-violent and egalitarian ways of life. A deeper understanding of Khoisan culture can lead directly to models and methods for change in present Southern African society, and how going back to some of the best aspects of our roots can, in fact, lead us forward into a future that is both economically and culturally healthy.

 

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Wahu Kaara: (Kenya)

 

Feminist thinking in Context of African experience in the struggle for space, place and contribution to Human Prosperity

Sobonfu Somé (Burkina Faso, Africa)

 

The Gift of Mothering

Panel 6

 

Present Matriarchal Societies – Asia: India, Sumatra, China

 

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Patricia Mukhim, Khasi (Megalaya, Northeast India)

 

Khasi Matrilineal Society - Challenges in the 21st Century

 

In the Khasi matrilineal system, descent or lineage is based on the female line and ancestral property passes through the youngest daughter whose role is that of a custodian. With the ancestral property the youngest daughter also inherits huge responsibilities. She has to care for her aged parents until their death. After that she has to conduct all the religious rituals connected with deaths in the family.

 

Before the advent of Christianity, the Khasis paractised their indigenous religion. In Khasi society the youngest daughter or the Khatduh is herself an institution. Her unmarried brothers and sisters continue to live in the parental home. If any of her elder sisters should die then her children would usually live and be brought up by the Khatduh.

 

Khasi society is fairly egalitarian. There is no caste or class system as prevails in other Indian societies. Marriage as an institution came in only after Christianity. Otherwise Khasi society recognizes co-habitation between a man and woman to be as good as a marriage.

 

In my lecture I will try and study the underpinnings of Khasi matriliny and how it has survived over time despite being surrounded by patrilineal and patriarchal societies. It will also attempt to analyse the disruptions if any which threaten to displace matriliny and to replace it with some other system which is seen as more gender-balanced, and to see how such attempts play themselves out in the face of stiff resistance from society.

Valentina Pakyntein 

 

Khasi Matriarchal Social Structure: Tradition and Incessancy

Dr. Savithri Shanker de Tourreil, Nayar (Kerala, Southwest India/Canada)

 

Nayars: Matrilineal or Matriarchal or a bit of both.

How do they fit into a South Indian Matrix?

 

I shall be illustrating my statements from my own field work among Nayar and other South Indian groups of women both matrilineal and other and also drawing on earlier extant ethnographic work. I have interviewed three generations of Nayar women, mother, daughter and grand daughter groups.

 

I provide first hand information on how girl babies were wanted, welcomed and prayed for, by the oldest male generation in the kin group. I also show the distinctive configurations among Nayars in the dynamics of power, control and privilege among both male and female members of the extended family.

Prof. Peggy Reeves Sanday (USA)

 

Divine Queenship: Considerations from the Minangkabau of West Sumatra

 

Although there is a long and venerable scholarly tradition analyzing divine kingship including names like Sir James Frazer, A.M. Hocart, Georges Dumézil, and others, there is very little on divine queenship outside the work of J.J. Bachofen, Marija Gimbutas, and Heide Goettner-Abendroth.

 

In this talk I examine the meaning of queenly sovereignty in West Sumatra through an analysis of the symbol of Bundo Kanduang, the legendary Queen Mother of the Minangkabau people, whose story is told in their state myth. I suggest that the theory of divine queenship inscribed in this famous text is a philosophy of social life. To illustrate this assertion, I demonstrate the ramifications of this philosophy by reference to women's ceremonial activities in village life.

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Ibu Ita Malik M.A., Minangkabau (Sumatra, Indonesia)

 

The Role of Minangkabau Women

 
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Prof. Lamu Gatusa, Mosuo (Southwest China)

 

A Sacred Place of Matriarchy: Lugu Lake –

Harmonious Past and Challenging Present

 

The society of the Mosuo people provides a pronouncedly equal relationship between men and women. They regard the relationship between "source" and "course" as that of female and male. The mother is considered to be the origin of life and society, which is expressed in ethnic concepts and the concepts of love.

 

In the Mosuo people's matriarchal culture and marriage patterns, the female's function is emphasized, but the male's function is not underestimated. This can be seen in family patterns, emotional patterns, property patterns and likewise in the marriage patterns. Monogamy and polygamyare the forms of the known marriage patterns. The history of the origin of these patterns, especially the monogamous one, is complicated and is related to interference by powers from outside.

 

However, the most characteristic form is the Mosuo people's "visiting marriage", which allows the partners to remain independent in many aspects, including personal independence, emotional independence and benefits independence. They do not have either sexual privileges or economic privileges. As a result, their relationship is a purely natural one of equal association. This kind of matriarchal culture and marriage pattern is still full of vigorous vitality in Lugu Lake region today.

 

Hengde Danshilacuo, Mosuo (Southwest China)

 

Mosuo Woman – Environment, Pullulation, and Views on Own Culture

 

I was born into a very typical Mosuo family. Mosuo is regarded as a unique ethnic group mostly because we follow a matriarchal system, where the common people live their whole lives in the maternal family home and never marry our lovers. Consequently, Mosuo family structure is very different from others.

 

As one of the very few Mosuo people who received higher education, I experienced various lives from very remote Mosuo village to modern Chinese cities, even life in United States. In my speech, I would like to introduce Mosuo family structure from my perspective through analyzing us Mosuo people's living environment, our life styles, belief, the practice of "walking marriage", to see how the current Mosuo family structure looks like and how it came into being. In the end, I will compare Mosuo family structure with the modern family structure in China to conclude what advantages and limitations lie in the Mosuo family structure. Finally, I will touch on my views on how to preserve Mosuo culture.

 

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Pilwha Chang (Korea)

 

Gift Giving, Mothering, and Ancient Ways

Letecia Layson (USA)

 

Priestessing on the Edge of Chaos – Decolonization as revelation to matriarchal spirituality- a brief look at the Babaylan of the Phillipines, past,present and future

 

 

Listening to Letecia, born and brought up in a catholic family in USA, is really interesting because of her reports on the way of thinking and living that her Philippine Babalayan ancestors represents.

 

Letecia has gradually lifted away the western patriarchal colonial youke on her shoulders and found her way back to her identity as a woman and a Babalayan.

 

I didn´t know more about the Philippines before, than that what I have seen in a TV-documentary about the consequences for woman and children in the country of the Catholic Church forbidding use of contraceptives and abortion. Somewhat of the greatest tragedy I ever have seen, women and children living under the most hopeless conditions in the streets and churchyards,  and a horrifying great number of orphans, of wich many were put into special jails for children, without any grown upp peope taking care of them in there.
Letecia states that the Genevieve Vaughan´s Gift Economy and the Matriarchal Studies model, worked out by Heide Göttner Abendroth contextualises the Babaylan culture through western cultural lenses,  that has become of great help to define it and to constitute a bridge.

 

Furthermore she gives a very interesting insight in Babalayan spritual culture and cosmology, in which there are no different pronouns for woman and man,  the first called "maganda" after the first woman brought to this world by the Bird (God or Goddess) ,  that means "beauty" and the second after the first man born by the Bird called "malaka" that means "strength". Instead of cultivating "mothers" and "fathers" they cultivate beauty and strength to grow in every individual.

 

And then  she makes report of a people on one of the islands in the Philippines that doesn´t even have a word for war.
So there is yet another  evidence of that Steven Pinker is wrong in his conclusion, that peace is something that has evolved out of the ideals of enlightment in our modern western world.

 

 
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societies-of-peace

Matriarchal societies, primarily shaped by women, have a non-violent social order in which all living creatures are respected without the exploitation of humans, animals, or nature. They are well-balanced and peaceful societies in which domination is unknown and all beings are treated equally. This book presents these largely misunderstood societies, both past and present, to the wider public, as alternative social and cultural models that promote trust, mutuality, and abundance for all.

 

Contrary to common belief, which misunderstands matriarchy as “women’s rule,” these societies are based on a tradition of gender equality, negotiate their political decisions through consensus, have intelligent rules to ensure a peaceful life, and are balanced both in regard to gender and with respect to the generations, and which demonstrates an ecologically appropriate way of dealing with all living beings. The example of matriarchal societies can inspire us to find better social and cultural models for the solution of many contemporary problems.
Contributors include, among others: Riane Eisler; Barbara Alice Mann; Peggy Reeves Sanday; Claudia von Werlhoff; Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum; Michael Dames;
Vicki Noble; Susan Gail Carter; Annette Kuhn; Lamu Gatusa; Bernadette Muthien; Fatimata Oualet Halatine; Wilhelmina J. Donkoh.
Contributions come from around the world, with several based in the U.S.

 

 
This anthology is of interest not only to students and scholars but anyone interested in archaeology or anthropology, cultural and women’s studies, sociology, ethnography, comparative religious studies, mythology, folklore, northern and arctic studies, Native studies, ecocriticism/ecofeminism and feminist theory/body politics.