R E L I G I O N   H I S T O R I A N 

S T E F A N I E   K N A U S S 


”...from a sample of miscellaneous stones a multitude of very different imageries might appear. That in this case the picture of the ideal matriarchy appears, lies in the predeterminate opinion that matriarchies do exist, but only have to be described in detail.”

In the German Wikipedia article about Matriarchy you can read this quotation by the German religion historian Stephanie Knauss:

"In ihrer kritischen Vorstellung Göttner-Abendroths als `Klassikerin der Matriarchatsforschung´ merkt Stefanie Knauss an: „In der Ethnologie, Anthropologie, Archäologie und Religionswissenschaft steht man ihrer Theorie meist eher ablehnend gegenüber, da die Existenz des von ihr beschriebenen Matriarchats mit ihrer Methode nicht nachgewiesen werden kann […].“[27]

My transl:

”In her critical opinion, Göttner Abendroth, as the classic matriarchy researcher", states Stefanie Knauss; "In ethnology, anthropology, archeology and science of religion her theory is dismissed as its impossible to find any such matriarchies described with her method.”

That´s an unintelligibly obscure message and strange conclusion as quite the contrary there are a lot of such societies, described in the same way by other researches as for example the Minangkabu by the anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, The Mosuo-people by Chinese anthropologists and themselves, the Khasi-people, as well as the Nigerian born sociologist Ifi Amadiume who beyond her own Igbo-clan claims most African societies in their African roots are or have been matriarchal up until now, as well as the German Anthropologist Veronica Bennholdt -Thomsen who has studied the matriarchy in Juchitan, and the anthropologist Helen Claudot-Hawad studying her own Tuareg-people, the anthropologist Barbara Alice Mann studying the Bear clan of Seneca Iroquis, the anthropologist Wilhelmina J. Donko studying her own Akan-people in Ghana, and the Bijagos-islanders studied by Águeda Gómez Suárez, Universidad de Vigo, España, and so forth. There are quite a few others examples too, as not at least my own partner´s origin  in a matriarchal Serere-clan in Westafrica.

So now my question is; how can a religion historian from Germany know better than him,  that his society isn´t matriarchal according to the very elaborate definition that Heide Göttner-Abendroth so exemplarily has worked out by the inductive method and her broad interdisciplinary approach?

To me its totally incomprehensible. And as nobody ever has tested any systematically scientific approach to the subject of matriarchy before the contemporary matrix of modern matriarchal research has been created by H. Göttner-Abendroth, how could it thus be rejected by people who never have been in involved in any attempt of research in the subject at all?

First - if her definition of ”matriarchy” might not work as an adequate scientific tool in the mapping of the contemporary indigenous matriarchies across the globe, who has come up with a more appropriate one, according to Stephanie Knauss and / or her colleges among the established academics?


And how could there be any appropriate definition of something you are sure of doesn't´t exist at all???


Then further down the German Wikipedia - article about Matriarchy continues as follows:

”Im universitären Wissenschaftsbetrieb werden zahlreiche Hypothesen und Methoden insbesondere von Klassikern der Matriarchatsforschung abgelehnt, wie beispielsweise eine historische Spekulation auf der alleinigen Basis der Interpretationen von Mythen, Legenden und Märchen.[55]

My trans:
”In established academic research a multitude of hypothesis and methods are rejected, specially those by the classical matriarchal researchers based exclusively on interpretations of myths, legends and fairy tales”

Then it continues:
”Als Reaktion darauf schlagen Autorinnen, die an der Matriarchatsidee festhalten, vor, eine komplexere Methodologie zu befolgen. Dabei sollen Fachdisziplinen wie Archäologie, Ethnologie, Religionswissenschaft, Volkskunde und „Oral History“, Geschichte, Soziologie u. a. kombiniert werden.[56] Die Notwendigkeit interdisziplinärer Methoden für die Erforschung des Zusammenhangs von Gesellschaftsform, Religion, Geschlecht und der Vieldimensionalität von Geschlechterrollen in Gesellschaften betont auch die Religionswissenschaftlerin Stefanie Knauß."

My transl:
”As a counterproposal to that, the  authors, still clinging to the idea of matriarchy, suggest the practice of a complex methodology. Thereby would academic disciplines as archaeology, ethnology, religion science, folklore and oral history, history and sociology and others be combined. The necessity of interdisciplinary methods for the research of the relations between societies, religion, kinship, and the multidimensionality of gender roles in societies is also stressed by the religion scientist Stefanie Knauss.”

Note that the correct academic terminology ”interdesiciplinarity” only is used in relation to Stefanie herself and not to these misled whim old matriarchs who like the former teacher of philosophy of science, formal logic and  interpretation at the university of München: Heide Göttner- Abendroth here is presented as ”the author” instead of "researcher", which actually is what she is, and nothing less.


”Zu den Schriften Göttner-Abendroths merkt sie jedoch kritisch an, dass diese Matriarchatsforschung aus dem Sammeln und Zusammenfügen von Mosaiksteinchen aus verschiedensten Quellen und Gesellschaften bestehe, und es fraglich bleibe, ob diese Quellen vergleichbar sind. „[…] aus einer Sammlung bunter Steine können schließlich sehr verschiedene Bilder entstehen. Dass in diesem Fall das Bild der idealen matriarchalen Gesellschaft entsteht, liegt […] an der Vorannahme, […] dass Matriarchate existierten und 'nur noch' im Detail beschrieben werden müssen.”

The writings by Göttner Abendroth, she criticises, as though her kind of matriarchal studies would have been build upon  a gathering and combining of stones in a mosaic from the most different sources and societies,claiming it must be questioned, whether the sources are comparable. (…) ”from a gathering of miscellaneous stones a multitude of very different imageries might appear. That in this case the picture of the ideal matriarchy appears, lies in the predeterminate opinion that matriarchies do exist, but only have to be described in detail.”

This is not only such an offensively derogatory diminishing and patronising description of one of the most eminent kind of scholarship in our time, that one lacks words to comment it, but also conveys exactly the same arrogant lack of intellectual honour that´s taken into frequent account among the young third wavers of anthropologists, archeologists and religion historians, when it comes to the obligatory whipping of there mother generation of matriarchalists, that they so submissively obedient take part in witch-hunting, not to loose their chanses to future well payed professors chairs.

So who then by Stefanies academic colleges, as well as herself, have ever worked out a more differentiated description in detail of the concept of ”matriarchy” than this one, by Heide Göttner Abendroth, using a more adquate method in the process of extracting the common features in the phenomenon that´s being investigated, than her inductive, as well as multidisciplinary approach?

And how come that this Stefanie, whose competence is limited to the religion realm, is regarded as competent to assess the possibility of the existence of matriarchy according to the economical, political, social and cultural / spiritual features that Göttner Abendroth has been continuously chiselling out during 40 years of investigations of the subject in practice as well as in theory, as it in this same Wikipedia-article is stressed that the theories created by the so called "classical matriarchal researchers" who draw their conclusions exclusively on interpretations of myths, legends and fairy tales are rejected by the established scholars today.

Who these so called "classical matriarchal researchers" are, is though unfortunately not defined, although at another place in the article Göttner Abendroth is labelled as the „Klassikerin der Matriarchatsforschung“, which must be considered as a vey misleading terminology as she is the one who has worked out a totally new paradigm of MODERN matriarchal studies by rendering the topic the  methodological framework it never have had before.

Furthermore you would expect more of a scholar with a doctors degree, than to blame a college for having performed research according to the complete normally scientifical proceeding of creating a hypothesis for her / his investigation; namely in this case that there ARE and HAVE BEEN matriarchies.

Its quite obvious that Stefanie´s own predominate opinion is the same as Cynthia Eller´s et al, that patriarchy is universal and therefore research about matriarchies shouldn't´t be performed at all.

Its also quite correct according to normal scientific proceeding to work out a detailed description of a so called "ideal" or unmitigated model of a matriarchy - but no-one has therefore ever claimed such "ideal" matriarchies to be the norm in reality, specially not so lately when they are forced to transform into patriarchal "modernity" in a speed thats been increasingly accelerated up until nowadays consisting only of a few decades.

Last but not least my question to Stefanie is , what kind of academic legitimicy she is referring to,  in her refuting a broad set of multidisciplinary research in a new paradigm of  social / historian / anthropologigal / ethnological / archaeological /  religion historian / mythologigal /  evolutionary / gender,  and so forth, disciplines, as she herself is stressing  the impossiblity of drawing any conclusions about the matriarchal vs patriarchal structure of a society,  only from a religion historian view.