Canadian Anthropological Society/Societée Canadienne d'anthropologie - 2021

Symposium: Matriculture

Call for Presentations

Symposium: Matriculture


Convenor: Linnéa Rowlatt (Network on Culture)

Submission deadline: 27 January 2021

The view that "War is a game for men" has been declaimed with loud voices – yet the Kanienʼkehá ka꞉ (Mohawk) people, widely acknowledged as the most fierce warriors of eastern North America, are a matriculture whose Clan Mothers nominate, install, and remove male Chiefs. The Haida, once known as the sea wolves of the Pacific Coast, are matrilineal, where personal identity is defined through one’s mother. The matriarchal Minangkabau of Indonesia militarily resisted Dutch colonization for almost fifteen years and, over a century later, launched a guerilla-based civil war against the Sukarno government. Scythian warriors of the Ancient period were women as well as men, since horse-riding largely negates the advantages of upper body strength. Clearly, these matricultural societies have not been strangers to war and violence, whether defensive or offensive, and many more examples could be provided.

Taking matriculture as a cultural system in the classical Geertzian sense of the term, this panel will explore the institutions and customs of matricultures at war, including cultures where women go to war themselves, exercise military authority over men, or exercise the political authority to declare war (and end it). We take it as a given that some cultures have a weakly defined matricultural system, while others, who have strong matricultural systems, express this strength in several ways – one of which is through designating women as authorities over violent conflict or asactive participants.

We invite presentations which present, analyze, or contextualize the historical or present-day military campaigns of matricultures and the social institutions which conduct them. We are interested in questions such as: What is the role for women in war when the the society at war hasa flourishing matricultural system? More, how do women contribute to the processes of war? In what matricultures do women have the authority to declare war, or the freedom to become warriors if they so chose?

Possible presentations may include but are not limited to:

  • women warriors and/or women’s warrior societies, historical or contemporary
  • political authority as exercised by women in matricultures
  • social institutions of matricultures where women exercise military power
  • the role of women in strategies of engaging and/or disengaging with external conflicts
  • the status of men and their relationships to women in martial matricultures

Abstract submissions are invited of 250 words maximum.

Abstract submissions should be sent to Linnéa Rowlatt (

About Matrix

Matrix: a Journal for Matricultural Studies is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed journal published by the International Network for Training, Education, and Research on Culture (Network on Culture), Canada. Matrix is published online twice yearly (May and November).

For many years, scholarship has explored the expression and role of women in culture from various perspectives such as kinship, economics, ritual, etc, but so far, the idea of approaching culture as a whole, taking the female world as primary, as a cultural system in Geertz’ classical sense of the term – a matriculture – has gone unnoticed. Some cultures have a weakly defined matricultural system; others have strong matricultural systems with various ramifications that may include, but are not limited to, matrilineal kinship, matrilocality, matriarchal governance features – all of which have serious consequences relative to the socio-cultural status of women, men, children, and the entire community of humans, animals, and the environment.

The main objective of Matrix is to provide a forum for those who are working from this theoretical stance. We encourage submissions from scholars from around the world who are ready to take a new look at the ways in which people, historically and currently, have organized themselves into meaningful relationships; the myths, customs, and laws which support these relationships; and the ways in which researchers have documented and perhaps mis-labeled the matricultures they encounter.

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