Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women
We are witnessing a new surge of interpersonal and institutional violence against women, including new witch hunts. This surge of violence has occurred alongside an expansion of capitalist social relations. In this new work that revisits some of the main themes of Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici examines the root causes of these developments and outlines the consequences for the women affected and their communities. She argues that, no less than the witch hunts in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe and the “New World,” this new war on women is a structural element of the new forms of capitalist accumulation. These processes are founded on the destruction of people’s most basic means of reproduction. Like at the dawn of capitalism, what we discover behind today’s violence against women are processes of enclosure, land dispossession, and the remolding of women’s reproductive activities and subjectivity.
As well as an investigation into the causes of this new violence, the book is also a feminist call to arms. Federici’s work provides new ways of understanding the methods in which women are resisting victimization and offers a powerful reminder that reconstructing the memory of the past is crucial for the struggles of the present.
Silvia Federici is a feminist writer, teacher, and militant. In 1972, she was co-founder of the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Wages for Housework campaign internationally.
In the 1990s, after a period of teaching and research in Nigeria, she was active in the anti-globalization movement and the U.S. anti-death penalty movement. She is one of the co-founders of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, an organization dedicated to generating support for the struggles of students and teachers in Africa against the structural adjustment of African economies and education systems. From 1987 to 2005, she also taught international studies, women’s studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
Her decades of research and political organizing accompanies a long list of publications on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education, culture, international politics, and more recently the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons. Her steadfast commitment to these issues resounds in her focus on autonomy in what she calls self-reproducing movements as a powerful challenge to capitalism through the construction of new social relations.
“It is good to think with Silvia Federici, whose clarity of analysis and passionate vision come through in essays that chronicle enclosure and dispossession, witch-hunting and other assaults against women, in the present, no less than the past. It is even better to act armed with her insights.”
—Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Silvia Federici’s new book offers a brilliant analysis and forceful denunciation of the violence directed towards women and their communities. Her focus moves between women criminalized as witches both at the dawn of capitalism and in contemporary globalization. Federici has updated the material from her well-known book Caliban and the Witch and brings a spotlight to the current resistance and alternatives being pursued by women and their communities through struggle.”
—Massimo De Angelis, professor of political economy, University of East London author of The Beginning of History: Values, Struggles, and Global Capital
Author: Silvia Federici
Publisher: Common Notions/PM Press
Published October 2018
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 120 Pages
Subjects: Women’s Studies/Politics/Sociology