Persecutory Cultures

free course

Persecutory Cultures

Stonings, witch hunts, pogroms, lynchings, heretic hunts, crusades and "holy wars". The blood libel and scapegoating, torture, exorcism, book burnings. Marking the “unbeliever”: Jewish badges and hats, dhimmi garments. Public humiliation of disobedient women: witches’ bridles, “shame-masks,” headshaving, stocks, ducking, sexual punishments. Persecution of same-sex-loving and gender-variant people. Racialized diabolism as colonizing ideology to justify massacres, theft and destruction of sacred bundles and masks; the Stolen Generations and “Indian boarding schools"; misogynist and racist epithets and images. Each of these areas: persecution of women, witches, heretics, queers, “infidels,” Indigenous cultures, and the descendants of captives, is an entire study. Here we look at similarities in Othering people, and the methods of repression used to keep oppressed groups down.

I've made this 2018 video open access because of the state of emergency we find ourselves in, with fascism on the rise, and because everyone needs to understand these destructive patterns of repression. It's free for all to view; and you can support this work by donating; or by becoming one of my Matronae (making monthly donations).

Your Instructor

Max Dashu
Max Dashu

Max Dashu founded the Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research and document global women's history, reflecting the full spectrum of the world's peoples. She uses images to teach, scanning the cultural record: archaeology, history, art, orature, linguistics and spiritual philosophies. From her collection of some 50,000 images, she has created 130 visual talks on female cultural heritages, foregrouding Indigenous traditions, with attention to patterns of conquest and domination. She is internationally known for her expertise on ancient female iconography, matricultures and patriarchal systems, medicine women and shamans, witch hunts, and female spheres of power.

Dashu's legendary visual talks bring to light female realities usually hidden from view, from ancient female figurines to women leaders, priestesses, clan mothers, philosophers, warriors and rebels. Her courses scan the cultural record—archaeology, history, art, orature, linguistics, and spiritual philosophies—making this knowledge more accessible to all education backgrounds.

Dashu has been presenting her visual talks for more than four decades, at universities, conferences, museums, community centers, bookstores, galleries, libraries and schools, in North America, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Austria, Australia, Mexico and Guatemala.

Max Dashu's book Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion, 700-1000 (Veleda Press, 2016) has been acclaimed as a sourcebook on European ancestral traditions. Her forthcoming book on women in Hellenic myth and history is Vol II in her 16-volume series Secret History of the Witches.

Dashu has published in various journals and anthologies, including Goddesses in World Mythology (Praeger 2010) and the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religion (ABC-Clio 2018). She created two videos: Women's Power in Global Perspective (2008) and Woman Shaman: The Ancients (2013). Her daily posts on the Suppressed Histories Facebook page are followed by 181,000 people, and 72,000 more have viewed her articles on

Course Curriculum

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