dedication and organization

opening words


the program

literature of the lecturers






press releases

1st World Congress on Matriarchal Studies
Luxembourg 2003
Selected Papers


Center for the Study of the Gift Economy

International Academy Hagia

Opening Words by Genevieve Vaughan

Human community occurs because we satisfy each other's needs at many levels. This satisfaction can take place through complex mechanisms such as the market or directly in any occasion in which one person gives to another without payment. The human relations that are established are different in the two cases. The market exchange relations are adversarial while the relations coming from direct giving can promote trust and mutuality.

Mothering is an example of direct gift giving because young children cannot give back an equal payment for what they have been given and they therefore require unilateral gifts. This gift giving has a transitive logic of its own that gives value and creates bonds. It creates subjectivities that are not ego centric like those enmeshed in the relations of exchange but are grounded in the existence of others and society. Patriarchal Capitalism is based on the market and the taking of many unseen gifts. The logic of gift giving provides an alternative to the logic of the market. For this reason it has been devalued and made invisible though it has not ceased to exist.

Now it is important to bring forward and become conscious of this alternative logic. In order to strengthen the community of those who want a better world I am offereing this conference free of charge to its participants, so that the idea of a gift economy may become visible and validated in spite of the context of exchange and market values in which we live.

Providing this conference free of charge is particularly appropriate because matriarchal economies are often gift economies. Since one of the purposes of the Congress is to identify in matriarchal cultures guidelines for a better future, we can partially experiment one of their fundamental aspects by interacting on a gift basis.

Yours for a peaceful matricentric economy

Opening Words by Heide Goettner-Abendroth

Matriarchal societies have a non-violentsocial structure. They are based on gender equality; their political decisions are made by consensus; insightful and well thought-through principles and social guidelines ensure a peaceful life for all. These are true SOCIETIES OF PEACE. Before the inauguration of modern Matriarchal Studies 30 years ago, matriarchies had not been objectively and impartially investigated by Western social sciences. Matriarchal societies have a long and fascinating history, and despite the destructive disrespect they have undergone, they continue to exist on various continents.

We now intend to present these largely misunderstood societies which have been shaped primarily by women to a wider public. Although their important history has often been made invisible, women have always been the creators of societies and cultures. Regaining this deeper knowledge of history is crucial.

In 2003, the First World Congress on Matriarchal Studies, titled SOCIETIES IN BALANCE, took place in Luxembourg. It was sponsored by that country's Minister of Family and Women's Affairs, Marie-Josée Jacobs, and organized and guided by me, as director of "International Academy HAGIA", Germany. It was a ground-breaking event: it brought together from across the world, for the first time, scholars who have otherwise been working in isolation on this issue. Thus, a wide-ranging, alternative "scientific community" came into its own.

I am excited that now, in 2005, the Second World Congress on Matriarchal Studies will be held in San Marcos, Texas. It will take place thanks to the generous sponsorship of Genevieve Vaughan, director of the "Center for the Study of the Gift Economy", Austin, Texas, and will once again be chaired by me. I expect that it will go beyond the Congress of 2003, because this time it will bring together indigenous women and men from many of the world's still existing matriarchal societies. This will make the Second World Congress a significantly intercultural event.

At the beginning of this new millennium there is an awakened interest in the new social science of Matriarchal Studies. These studies shed light on a form of society that can inspire us to find better social and cultural models to solve many contemporary problems. May the example of matriarchal societies show us the way to leave patriarchy behind!

Yours sincerely, Heide