ECPR: European Consortium for Political Research

ECPG conference: European Conference on Politics and Gender

Lausanne 8-10 June 2017

Panel Number


Matriarchal Theories and Cultures as Models for Envisioning an Egalitarian and Socially Sustainable Future

Panel Chair

Kaarina Kailo
Oulu university

Panel Discussant

Heide Göttner-Abendroth
International Academy Hagia

Section: Political Theory


This panel focuses on matricultural studies and theories that offer compelling visions for societies of peace past, present and future. The fields from matriarchal or matricultural studies to the related fields of Gender and the Gift economy/ecology in Europe and North-America have established themselves as serious academic fields in the past twenty years. St. Gallen (Switzerland) opened the first matriarchal studies Archive in 2011 and Oxford UP has published a comprehensive bibliography on matriarchies (H. Göttner-Abendroth and Barbara Alice Mann, 2014).

The aim of this panel is to bring together scholars and two film makers who work on matriarchal cultures to present their most recent research and visual illustration of the topic.

Particularly, the purpose of this session is to introduce this timely topic to scholars of gender and politics who may be unaware of the peaceful and matriarchal roots of Europe with the longlasting civilization going far back into Neolithic times (Luciana Percovich).

Kaarina Kailo and Heide Göttner-Abendroth focus on matriarchal or matricultural theories and critical theory. Kailo describes the Gift Ecology in the North.

Kirre Koivunen presents her documentary on Woman at risk—on the possibilities of gift economies and matriarchies globally (Valokulabo 2017) and Francesca Rosati Freeman presents her film on the Mosuo of China (Nu Gua. In the name of the Mother, 2015).

The panel makes visible that there are still many egalitarian, self-sustaining cultures with varying social arrangements that offer radical alternatives to capitalistic patriarchy with its asymmetrical gender relations.



08/06/2017 14:30


Building: Géopolis Floor: 2 Room: 2224


Matricultural Wisdom at the Beginning of Europe

Comparative Perspective


Europe (Central and Eastern)



Luciana Percovich
Università degli Studi di Milano/Libera Università delle Donne di Milano


The archaeology of Old Europe has restored the memory of a civilization in balance, holding in the centre the Wisdom of the Mothers. The architecture of houses, of villages, of burials of this scarcely known Neolithic Old Europe tell about a peaceful civilization attuned with the natural rhythms of life and death.

In the reconstruction of the Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas (born in Vilnius in 1921 – dead in Los Angeles in 1994) we are now able to see how for some millennia, with an apex between the VII and the IV millennium bc, Europe was the cradle of a complex and refined civilization, living in large settlements that don’t show any traces of wars or of social or gender inequalities, devoting to arts and developing an articulated system of symbols and writing.

Comparing these data with the contemporary matriarchal societies, we are allowed to think:

First, that all peoples on the Earth developed and passed through a matriarchal phase which, in the various continents, evolved following times and forms proper to each different culture.

Secondly, that it is necessary to bring back of some millennia the clock of history and third and more important aspect, that we have to question what can be defined as “civilization”: today it is supposed to begin with the wars of the Olympian gods and heroes.