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Riane Eisler

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Riane Eisler
Born (1931-07-22) July 22, 1931 (age 92)
Vienna, Austria
Other namesRiane Tennenhaus Eisler
Alma materUniversity of California
Known forThe Chalice and the Blade (1987, 2022)

The Real Wealth of Nations (2007)

Nurturing Our Humanity (2019)
SpouseDavid Elliot Loye
Websitewww.rianeeisler.com www.centerforpartnership.org

Riane Tennenhaus Eisler (born July 22, 1931) is an Austrian-born American systems scientist futurist, attorney, and author who writes about the effect of gender and family politics historically on societies, and vice versa. She is best known for her 1987 book The Chalice and the Blade, in which she coined the terms "partnership" and "dominator".[1][2]

Her newest works draw from social and biological science, especially neuroscience, showing the interconnection between families, gender, economics, and story/language as cornerstones of either partnership-oriented or domination-oriented social systems..

Eisler’s multi-disciplinary whole-systems analysis highlights how traditions of domination underlie current crises, as well as how to move to a more equitable, sustainable, and caring world.


Eisler was born in Vienna in 1931 before her family fled from the Nazis in 1939 to Cuba. She and her parents lived in a slum in Havana for seven years, after which they emigrated to the United States, to Miami, New York, and Chicago before finally settling in Los Angeles.[3]

Eisler has degrees in sociology and law from the University of California. She is an attorney, legal scholar, systems scientist, and author. She has published thirteen books, including one memoir, The Gate, published in 2000. Her first book, published in 1977, was Dissolution: No-Fault Divorce, Marriage, and the Future of Women. Her second book, published in 1979, was on the Equal Rights Amendment.[4]

In her third book The Chalice and the Blade, originally published in 1987, she coined the terms "partnership" and "dominator" to describe the two underlying forms of society that transcend conventional social categories like right/left, religious/secular, Eastern/Western, capitalist/socialist, etc.

Partnership societies are characterized by gender equality, peace, equity, gender equality, and sustainability, caring, while dominator societies are characterized by sexism and other forms of in-group versus out-group rankings such as racism and sexism, chronic war, ecological destruction, and unsustainability. According to her research, which references the work of archaeologists Marija Gimbutas and Ian Hodder, anthropologists Douglas Fry, and many others, indicates that for millennia human societies were built on partnership, in which the human capacity to give, nurture, and sustain life was held in the highest regard, and shared responsibility and caring were as the gold standard. The fall into domination occurred around 6,500 years ago. [5][6]

The Chalice and the Blade has sold over 500,000 copies and been translated into around 30 languages.[7]

Eisler has argued that the switch from partnership to domination led to in-group versus out-group attitudes and violence, the “conquest of nature,” massive inequality, the devaluation of the work of caring for people, starting at birth, and caring for our natural life-support systems, and the normalization of violence, from abusive authoritarian families to chronic warfare among the family of nations. [8]

She is editor-in-chief of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies at the University of Minnesota.

The Center for Partnership Studies[edit]

In 1987, in partnership with her late husband David Elliot Loye, Eisler founded The Center for Partnership Studies, which was later renamed The Center for Partnership Systems. The organization is "dedicated to research, education, and building tools to construct economic and social systems that support human beings and the planet that sustains us."[9]


Philosopher Terence McKenna referenced Eisler's work throughout his writings and talks, including in The Archaic Revival.[10] Eisler's term dominator culture has been used by writers ranging from bell hooks to Tao Lin. Her work is taught in schools, especially high schools and universities, and has influenced people worldwide.

In 1988 Eisler and McKenna gave a talk entitled Man And Woman At The End Of History together in Ojai CA, Mill Valley.

Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called her book The Real Wealth of Nations “a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking”, adding “this brilliant book shows how we can build economic systems that meet both our material and spiritual needs.”[11]

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who uses the title “first partner of California, wrote of Eisler’s Nurturing Our Humanity “In a world that feels ever more dangerous, divided, and out of balance, Nurturing Our Humanity outlines the roadmap for a world that leads with partnership – where empathy, care, and community are valued above all, and each can fulfill our full human potential.”[12]

Ashley Montagu called her book The Chalice and the Blade “The most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species"[13]

Isabel Allende said of the book: "Some books are like revelations, they open the spirit to unimaginable possibilities."[14]

Gloria Steinem called her book Sacred Pleasure “”Eisler’s most stunning, far-reaching, and practical gift – both to readers and to a world that must change or perish.”[15]

The “children’s troubadour” Raffi, called her book on education, Tomorrow’s Children, “a pathway toward a child-honoring society.”

Marianne Williamson called her book The Power of Partnership, “Stunning…the map to a world that works for all of us.”

Comments on Eisler’s keynotes:

“I wanted to make sure you appreciate the remarkable impact you had on the entire leadership team at Case Western Reserve University when you gave that inspirational keynote address to our deans, vice presidents, and senior faculty. Your talk sent more reverberations through our community than any speaker we'd ever had.” Edward M. Hundert, M.D., President, Case Western Reserve University, 2002-2006

"Riane Eisler spoke to the hearts and the heads of the top women at Microsoft. She was compelling not only in her compassion and humanity but even more so with her strong logic and sense of urgency. She is a wonderful, inspiring speaker!" Alex Loeb, Former Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Corporation


Among Eisler’s many awards are:

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • 1977 — Dissolution: No-Fault Divorce, Marriage, and the Future of Women. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 1583480293
  • 1979 — The Equal Rights Handbook: What ERA Means to Your Life, Your Rights, and the Future. Avon. ISBN 1583480250
  • 1987 – The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0062502891
  • 1990 — The Partnership Way: New Tools for Living and Learning, Healing Our Families, and Our World. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0062502905
  • 1995 – Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0062502832
  • 2000 — Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBC 0813390400
  • 2000 — The Gate. iUniverse. ISBN 0595001858
  • 2002 — The Power of Partnership: Seven Relationships that Will Change Your Life. New World Library. ISBN 1577311787
  • 2007 — The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economy. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. ISBN 1576753883
  • 2019 — Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future. with Douglas P. Fry. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0190935723


  1. ^ "The Chalice and the Blade". HarperCollins. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  2. ^ "'The Chalice and the Blade'". The New York Times. 1 November 1987 – via NYTimes.com.
  3. ^ Lin, Tao (18 November 2021). "Partnership Before Sexism and War". Tank Magazine. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Authored". rianeeisler.com. Archived from the original on 13 April 2021.
  5. ^ Eisler, Riane (21 September 1988). The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. Harper Collins. ISBN 0062502891.
  6. ^ "You've Met the Fathers of Capitalism and Socialism—Now Meet the Mother of Partnerism". Forbes.
  7. ^ Lin, Tao (18 November 2021). "Partnership Before Sexism and War". Tank Magazine. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  8. ^ Mercati, Stefano (June 2015). "Glossary for Cultural Transformation: The Language of Partnership and Domination". Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies. 1.
  9. ^ "CPS Team". The Center for Partnership Systems. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  10. ^ ""Dominator" vs. "Partnership" Cultures: A Profound Re-Telling of Human History". 14 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Watch Riane Eisler on Creating a Caring Economics". Gaia. Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  12. ^ Eisler, Riane; Fry, Douglas P. (13 August 2019). Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-093572-6.
  13. ^ "Presidential Nominations". The New York Times. 27 March 1994. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  14. ^ "The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler". Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  15. ^ "Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body, New Paths to Power and Love". The Center for Partnership Systems. Retrieved 14 June 2024.

External links[edit]