Riane Eisler

Riane Tennenhaus Eisler is an Austrian born American scholar, writer, and social activist. Born in Vienna, her family fled from the Nazis to Cuba when she was a child; she later emigrated to the United States. She has degrees in sociology and law from the University of California. She is the author of many popular books and articles, and president of the Center for Partnership Studies. Eisler has been described as a cultural historian and an evolutionary theorist.

Partnership & domination models

Eisler proposes that we need new social categories that go beyond conventional ones such as religious vs. secular, right vs. left, capitalist vs. communist, Eastern vs. Western, and industrial vs. pre or post industrial, which she notes do not describe the whole of a society's beliefs and institutions. She coined the term domination culture to describe a system of top-down rankings ultimately backed up by fear or force, noting that one of the core components of this system of authoritarian rule in both the family and the state is the subordination of women--be it in Nazi Germany and Khomeini's Iran today or in earlier cultures where chronic violence and despotic rule were the norm. She analyzes the androcracy (governance of social organization dominated by males) of Indo-European and other societies, versus what she proposes was a partnership model (as distinct from matriarchy) for the social organization of Neolithic Europe and the later Minoan civilization that flourished in prehistoric Neolithic Crete. To support the idea that neither men nor women dominated one another, Eisler cites archeological evidence from southeast Europe, especially Crete, drawing much from the research of Marija Gimbutas, James Mellaart, Nicolas Platon, and Vere Gordon Childe. Her hypothesis about prehistory also relies strongly on sources such as the Gnostic Gospels and on the history portrayed by the Ancient Greek poet Hesiod. To support her thesis for contemporary societies, she draws heavily from cross-cultural studies. She and others using her partnership/domination conceptual framework have applied her analysis to fields ranging from politics and economics to religion, business, and education.

An activist for social change

Riane Eisler inspired Professor Min Jiayin of the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to edit The Chalice and the Blade in Chinese Culture, published in 1995 by China Social Sciences Publishing House. which tested Eisler's cultural transformation theory in Chinese culture, and found that there was also a shift from partnership to domination in Asian prehistory. Her work has inspired numerous other books, as well as dissertations, both in the United States and other nations.

Eisler's international bestseller The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future, now in 22 languages, including most European languages and Chinese, Russian, Korean, Hebrew, Japanese, and Arabic, was hailed by anthropologist Ashely Montagu as "the most important book since Darwin's Origin of Species".

Her newest book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics – hailed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking,” by Peter Senge as “desperately needed,” and by Gloria Steinem as “revolutionary”--proposes a new approach to economics that gives visibility and value to the most essential human work: the work of caring for people and planet.

Riane Eisler keynotes conferences worldwide, and is a consultant to business and government on applications of the partnership model introduced in her work. International venues have included Germany at the invitation of Prof. Rita Suessmuth, President of the Bundestag (the German Parliament) and Daniel Goeudevert (Chair of Volkswagen International); Colombia, invited by the Mayor of Bogota; and the Czech Republic, invited by Vaclav Havel, the (President of the Czech Republic).

Eisler's other books include the award-winning The Power of Partnership and Tomorrow’s Children, as well as Sacred Pleasure, a reexamination of sexuality and spirituality, and Women, Men, and the Global Quality of Life, which statistically documents the key role of the status of women in a nation’s general quality of life.

Riane Eisler is a founding member of the General Evolution Research Group (GERG), a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and World Business Academy, and a commissioner of the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality, along with the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and other spiritual leaders. She is also co-founder of the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV) She is the president of the Center for Partnership Studies, dedicated to research and education.

Her pioneering work in human rights expanded the focus of international organizations to include the rights of women and children. Her research on systemic cultural transformation has impacted many fields, including history, sociology, economics, psychology, and education. She is the author of over 200 essays and articles in publications ranging from Behavioral Science, Futures, Political Psychology, and The UNESCO Courier to Brain and Mind, Yes!, the Human Rights Quarterly, The International Journal of Women's Studies, and the World Encyclopedia of Peace.

Dr. Eisler has received many honors, including the Humanist Pioneer Aaward and the first Alice Paul ERA award. She is the only woman among twenty great thinkers including Hegel, Adam Smith, Marx, and Toynbee selected for inclusion in Macrohistory and Macrohistorians in recognition of the lasting importance of her work as a cultural historian and evolutionary theorist.

Eisler was one of the founders of the the Women's Rights Law Reporter, the first legal periodical to focus exclusively on women's rights.

Center for Partnership Studies

The Center for Partnership Studies (CPS), located in Pacific Grove, CA., was established in 1987 for the purpose of researching, developing, and disseminating education on the partnership model as developed by Riane Eisler.

SAIV: The Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence

The mission of The Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV) is to stop intimate violence — the training ground for the violence of war, terrorism, political repression, and crime. SAIV was founded by Riane Eisler with Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams and is a project of the Center for Partnership Studies a not-for-profit 501©)(3) organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization by the United Nations.


  • Dissolution: NoFault Divorce, Marriage, and the Future of Women. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1977.
  • The Equal Rights Handbook: What ERA means for your life, your rights, and your future. New York: Avon, 1979.
  • The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. ISBN 0-06-250289-1
  • Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body. San Francisco: Harper, 1996. ISBN 0-06-250283-2
  • Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century (2000)
  • The Power of Partnership: Seven Relationships that will Change Your Life (2002)
  • Educating for a Culture of Peace (2004)
  • The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2007. ISBN 978-1-57675-388-0

External links

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