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The Term Matriarchy

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The term Matriarchy is a reproduction from that 19. Century and corresponds etymologically to designations such as monarchy, hierarchy, patriarchy, etc. (From Greek mÍtÍr "mother" and archÍ "beginning, origin", later also "rule").

Although most anthropologists associate the term Matriarchy with the work of J.J. Bachofen or L.H. Morgan, it was used for the first time by E.B. Taylor (1896) in an article with the title "The Matriarchal Family system". Bachofen used the term "Gynaikokratie" (from Greek. gyne "woman" and kratos "to rule, prevail") in the sub-title of its German issue of "The Motherright" (Das Mutterrecht, 1861). In the English edition this was translated however falsely with "matriarchy".

In English-language countries, in particular the USA, the term matriarchy is understood therefore until today as "woman's rule", and not only by laymen, but also by outstanding encyclopedias, as for instance the Encyclopedia Britannica, and also by reference books in other languages, even Germans.

When internationally the first ethnologists and scholars of matriarchal studies began to learn about peoples who showed matrilocality and matrilineage they drew falsely the conclusion that mothers are rulers, on the one hand because of the translation error, and in addition, in similarity to their own patriarchal culture.

The modern studies of matriarchy corrected this misunderstanding in the German-speaking countries in the sixties 20. Century and investigates since then this field. The first world congress for Matriarchal studies took place 2003 in Luxembourg.

In the international science discourse the term matriarchy is maintained, although sometimes it is misconstrued as "mother's rule" or "woman's rule"; both never existed in accordance to today's state of research.

Today Matriarchy is used in the sense of "motherly beginning" as a beginning of a cycle, because these societies are coined by cyclic thinking unlike linear.

Replacements as gylanic, matrilinear, matrilocal, matrifocal, egalitarian etc. instead of matriarchal are problematic, because

  • first of all thereby only several characteristics of matriarchal societies are taken into account and not this social order as whole.
  • Secondly these reducing terms are used to deny the existence of matriarchal societies and are unfit therefore.

 

It is important to fill and correctly use the term Matriarchy
with error free and unmistakable contents.

 

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"Today's Matriarchies From the Newest View"

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