topic posted Sun, July 12, 2009 - 7:10 AM by 
Date / Time: 6/29/2009 12:51 PM

Did You Miss Dr. Lucia Birnbaum? Read This Intro to Her New Book!

For a full copy of this book introduction email

the future has an ancient heart*

transformational legacy on world migration paths

african maternal energies in the DNA

tracking african migration routes into the region later called europe

with implications for euro-americans

Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy and Religion, M.A. and Ph.D. programs in

Women’s Spirituality,

California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco.

*Note about the title. In the late 1970s, in the Casa delle Donne in Rome, at the crest of the campaign for women’s right to choose, in the legalized abortion bill (which succeeded in becoming a law that still stands in Italy) I came across an unattributed graffito, “the future has an ancient heart.” It remained in my unconscious until about three years ago when it surfaced while I was searching for a title of this book. I learned that it was the title of a 1956 book by Carlo Levi. I began thinking about my large debt to Levi who had first pointed to the significance of a dark woman in ancient communities of Italy.

Perhaps a vignette on the workings of the unconscious, in this case the graffito remained hidden until I needed a title for this book. The graffito rose to consciousness at the same time that I needed to clarify, for myself, that my research is not only about the continuing presence of the past in the present and the future, but a message of my large debt to Carlo Levi whose antifascist writings have left a perennial message of antifascism.


notes on feminist cultural history

written during the contemporary cultural and political revolution. . .

mother-centered and africa-centered perspectives

These notes were written during black history and women’s history months 2008 and 2009 by this sicilian~american feminist cultural historian who has been gathering evidence for my hope. . . often sitting in darkness. . . that the future has an ancient heart.

On rereading an essay I have recently been writing about my work I note a recurrent theme of telling the truth. This seems particularly important in our time when manipulation of the truth has become blatant, and corrupted, notably in the west for lethal purposes by dominant elites.

After world war two, liberation movements in africa (and elsewhere) of former european colonies emphasized the need to cut past the lies, omissions, and distortions of western (mostly male) historians writing for dominant classes. . . to research and write the truthful history of africa (and thereby, from this place where life and civilization began, the rest of the world). This enterprise was heralded by Cheikh Anta Diop of Senegal in africa. In the 1960s, feminists of the west held that telling the truth about women would split the world open.

These notes on feminist cultural history as a category of the study of women’s spirituality may be considered an introduction toward a truthful history of women and a truthful history of the world. The story is very ancient and becomes older each day with our realization of the untold history of animals, but I begin the story in 100,000 BCE with the emergence of homo sapiens sapiens, birthed in africa by our oldest mothers. Geneticist L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza has documented african origins of humans and tracked the DNA (transmitted through the mother) in african “demic” migrations after 60,000 BCE when migrants took their beliefs to every continent. Giuseppe Goffredo, south italian poet, scholar, and anti-war and justice activist , speaks of the DNA as “maternal energies”.

See Cavalli-Sforza’s map of human migrations that carried signs of african black mothers- - pubic V and color ochre red - -pointing to her generation of life- - everywhere. Her other signs, also on african migration paths, include menhirs and dolmens found all over the world. Menhirs are upright oval stone sculptures found at what is considered the first religious sanctuary in the world, at Har Karkum , dated 40,000 BCE, with surrealist incisions marking menhirs as human. This uncovery of Emmanuel Anati, an uncovery located at the oldest known religious sanctuary at Mt. Sinai, is significant. Mt. Sinai is the foundation place of judaism, christianity, and islam. Dolmens are sculptures of two figures bearing a horizontal figure , connoting, according to french archeologist Jean Clottes, a funerary ritual. From my feminist perspective, menhirs and dolmens suggest the black mother presiding over birth and death. Together with the pubic V and color ochre red, menhirs and dolmens, and stories and rituals surrounding black women divinities (in the latin west these became black madonnas) her symbols dance the spiral of life and death and regeneration.

Evidence of the primordial woman divinity was found all over Europe by Marija Gimbutas, lithuanian archeologist who worked in the United States, who has been credited with launching the western movement of the study of women’s spirituality. Gathering evidence in archeology and myth , Gimbutas documented the veneration of a woman divinity in the region later called Europe long eons before the establishment of a male divinity.

A sub-theme of my hypothesis on african origins and african beliefs transmitted everywhere ,is that we are in the midst of a tumultuous world cultural revolution which has something to do with remembering everyone’s primordial african origins. . . whose last major manifestation was in the 1960s, when I came to consciousness. Ever since the 1960s I have been swirling in several eddies of this cultural (and political) revolution. . . .a turbulence associated with cultural battles in the academy and then in the public arena culminating in the election of 2008 This cultural revolution has been generated by many movements, but the two most volatile, in my view, are the women’s movement and the africentrist struggle that brings the awareness we are all part of one another. . . imperialist and colonized. . . torturer and tortured.

In this turbulence I have been sustained by a host of no longer silenced women, in particular Bernadette Muthien of South Africa, Gloria Anzaldua of Azatlan, women of the south of Italy in the Permanent Convention of Women against War, international Women in Black, and in the United States, Code Pink , and Grandmothers against War sponsored by my own Women and Work group in Berkeley..

This book may be considered a synthesis with reflection of the main themes of my previous writings as well as their deepening since 2000 in CIIS study tours I have guided around the mediterranean after publication of Dark mother. african origins and godmothers in the U. S. late in 2001, by papers I have given to international conferences, and by syllabi of my classes at the California Institute of Integral Studies .

In my tentative chapter outline for this book, the future has an ancient heart, this paper is the introduction. Chapter one african primordial migration paths into Europe

;L. Luca Cavalli Sforza’s work documenting the DNA carried on african migration places. Case study: my ancestors on african migration paths in my ancestral places in Sicily . . . up the western coast of the island melding with africans and semitic africans by 800 BCE at Palermo, Sicily and Carthage, Africa. Later semitic phoenician entrepots in author’s ancestral places, Palermo, Erice, Ragusa Ibla, Syracuse. Case study: Legacies of Africa and my sicilian american relatives.

Chapter two. african migrations and cultural histories of islands sardinia and sicily, island museums of europe from paleolithic images of the black mother in sardinia to birthplace of A. Gramsci , major marxist theorist of the contemporary world. Gramsci‘s ancestors lived on african migration paths on the asian border of europe (Albania) before they migrated to sardinia, island full of evidence of the black mother and her values. . . .Ernesto Berlinguer (communist prime minister of Italy in the 1970s) whose roots were africa and first african migration paths in spain. Sardinia as crucible of feminism as well as of vernacular marxism. Motherland of feminism: Eleonora d’Arborea promulgated first women’s rights document of europe in the 12th century. Grazia De Ledda, in 20th century, first woman writer to win the nobel prize . Case Study: KPFA radio documentary on Sardinia of women’s spirituality scholars: Lucia Birnbaum, Sandy Miranda, and Mary Beth Moser . Case studies: Creative sicilian/american women. Chickie Farella, Mary Saracino, et al. et al. (She is Everywhere).

Chapter three african migrations and cultural history of the “two Sicilies”- - the island and south Italy. Sicily with the oldest rock painting (african) of europe, black madonna of Tindari whose values in justice and equality are carried by statues of women (statues whose bases are incised with: justice, equality, prudence (wisdom) guarding the sanctuary of this beloved black madonna (“I am black and beautiful”) on path of african amazons. Case study: Lcb paper: Amazon Project in Palermo November 2008 for conference of scholars of many disciplines, “Dwelling Places of Time in Myth and the Cell.”

In Apuglia, many black madonnas , healing, nonviolence movement of male peasant communists, permanent convention against war by women. Lcb paper for I Seminari di Marzo, March 2008. “Puglia. Land of african migration paths. Cultural implications of “I seminari di marzo.” Case study: lcb paper “African migration places, trulli, black madonnas, healing, heresy, anti-war movements: Giuseppe Gofreddo and Laboratorio Poesis.

Chapter four african migrations and cultural history of umbria, tuscany, and north italy. umbria: franciscan christianity, poor clares tuscany: african migration paths and etruscans . Heart of italian democratic communism and women’s movement in the 20th century (tuscany) Lcb paper for Armonia, Bologna, 2008. “African origins, franciscan christianity, renaissance art, contemporary feminism~communism with ragu.”

Chapter five African migrations and cultural legacy in Spain. Black madonnas, the basque: african enclave in Europe. semitic influence, great art, and most successful cooperatives in the world. Lcb tour to spain 2003. spain, cultural and political harbinger of a renewed europe: basque enclave of african genes, black madonna of Montserrat, blood-stained history and anarchist promise of Spain. Case: Lcb paper on tour to spain 2003. Vivian Deziak-Hahn pilgrimage of black madonnas, the camino from Le Puy in France to Santiago di Campostella in Spain, marked by black madonnas, blood of persecution, and hope today.

Chapter six: African migration paths and their cultural legacy in France. Healing (Lourdes), heresy (cathars), more black madonnas than anywhere on earth. Lcb 2005 paper for University of Toulouse, uprising of younger generation of african~french,

Chapter seven : Tragedy and transformation in contemporary africa. Nairobi world social forum, violence of Darfur, and most prescient women’s movement today in the world. Shailja, contemporary african poet who evokes the ancient african mother. Matriarchy and the gift economy. Case: Lcb paper on Gift Economy at World Social Forum 2007.

Chapter eight Primordial memory today in North and South America. Code Pink. Women in Black, Grandmothers against war. . Case: Chiapas: ancient african migrations, memory of circle governance and contemporary hope.

Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, M.A. and Ph.D. Program in Women’s Spirituality, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, California 94103. email: lucia@darkmother. net;

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