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The world is 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 relation. In this new work, Silvia Federici examines the root causes of these developments and outlines the consequences for the women affected and their communities. She ar The world is 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 relation. In this new work, Silvia Federici examines the root causes of these developments and outlines the consequences for the women affected and their communities. She argues, that this new war on women, a mirror of witch hunts in 16th- and 17th-century Europe and the “New World,” 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, the factors behind today’s violence against women are processes of enclosure, land dispossession, and the remolding of women’s reproductive activities and subjectivity.


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The world is 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 relation. In this new work, Silvia Federici examines the root causes of these developments and outlines the consequences for the women affected and their communities. She ar The world is 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 relation. In this new work, Silvia Federici examines the root causes of these developments and outlines the consequences for the women affected and their communities. She argues, that this new war on women, a mirror of witch hunts in 16th- and 17th-century Europe and the “New World,” 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, the factors behind today’s violence against women are processes of enclosure, land dispossession, and the remolding of women’s reproductive activities and subjectivity.

30 review for Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Some points were made that were worth considering, but as a sociohistorical analysis of capitalism and witch hunts, Silvia Federici left much to be desired. As a historian and anthropologist that focused on early modern European crime, including a course dedicated to witchcraft in the Atlantic, this was a disappointing book. Attempts at intersectionality were made, but conflating the witch hunts with slavery, indigenous genocide, and the Holocaust were absolutely not the way to do that. A lot of m Some points were made that were worth considering, but as a sociohistorical analysis of capitalism and witch hunts, Silvia Federici left much to be desired. As a historian and anthropologist that focused on early modern European crime, including a course dedicated to witchcraft in the Atlantic, this was a disappointing book. Attempts at intersectionality were made, but conflating the witch hunts with slavery, indigenous genocide, and the Holocaust were absolutely not the way to do that. A lot of my frustration came from the feeling that Federici was describing the manorial system as a communist utopia, when the manorial system was based on indentured servitude to a single wealthy elite. There were no "commons" to lose to capitalist possession. The "commons" that she describes at one point were owned by a wealthy land owner, not the people. There also seemed to be a huge disconnect with the reality of the Church and its role in medieval and early modern Europe. There was no church and state. The church WAS the state, there is no separating that. She also spends a lot of time blaming capitalism for things that were present before capitalism even became a Thing™, seemingly refusing to admit that those specific problems were perpetrated and encouraged by the Church. There are countless specific examples used in the book's early chapters that were either objectively wrong, or were portrayed in a misleading way to support her later arguments. When the very foundation that your theory is based on is flawed, it has trouble standing up to scrutiny. Federici's approach towards the "resurgence" of witchcraft persecutions in countries she refers to as existing in the "pre-civilization" stage also relies on the outdated idea in Anthropology that societal development follows a clear "path of progress", something that was used to justify racialized violence and colonialism. This isn't the only example of Federici using outdated approaches in this recent summary of her own work. Maybe it's my own fault for assuming that a book analyzing the link between capitalism and witchcraft persecutions would look towards capitalism's focus on property over human life, or the clear link between early capitalism and the Church's patriarchal systems. An intersectional approach could look at these tied in with racial prejudices within those structures. Instead this is a piece that relies on old, arguably racist, theory systems in Anthropology with a flawed historical basis to look at a problem that has existed well before capitalism and will likely continue whether capitalism remains the dominant economic framework or not. These problems she describes are a patriarchy problem, and while yes capitalism is inherently a patriarchal system, patriarchal systems can exist without capitalism and have for millenia.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Jaffe

    If you're tempted by but don't have time to read Caliban and the Witch, this is a quick readable rundown of its arguments; if you have, it also has updates that are worth a look. If you're tempted by but don't have time to read Caliban and the Witch, this is a quick readable rundown of its arguments; if you have, it also has updates that are worth a look.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This was unbelievably good and I agree with you that this is a game changer. Amazing. Silvia Federici is an academic and feminist activist. In this book she makes the case of continued capitalist expansion in relation to ongoing oppression of women. Starting with the witch hunts in 16th Century Europe to modern day witch hunts. My mind is blown. Fascinating.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Wattangeri

    This is a small book consisting of a series of articles written by Silvia Federici. She begins with a summary of her research into the 16th and 17th century witch hunts in Europe and America which killed and tortured thousands of women. Her thesis is how witch hunts occurred in the context of the development of capitalism, which she argues needs to be explored in the economic/political context of capital accumulation. She then goes on to explore the current-day witch hunts occurring in Africa, S This is a small book consisting of a series of articles written by Silvia Federici. She begins with a summary of her research into the 16th and 17th century witch hunts in Europe and America which killed and tortured thousands of women. Her thesis is how witch hunts occurred in the context of the development of capitalism, which she argues needs to be explored in the economic/political context of capital accumulation. She then goes on to explore the current-day witch hunts occurring in Africa, South America and India. She argues that this new war on women is a "structural element of the new forms of capitalist accumulation". She highlights the connections between violence against women and processes of enclosure, land dispossession. "and the remolding of women's reproductive activities and subjectivity." Important work and analysis much needed by feminist movement in order to challenge patriarchal capitalism. Has enthused me to read more on this subject.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nazli

    I loved this book of essays! The bottom line is, must crush capitalism and only grassroot women’s organizations can fight this. What I loved the most though is that Federici offers concrete forms of action to combat these systemic inequalities and violence. “...the new violence against women is rooted in structural trends that are constitutive of capitalist development and state power in all times.” — sure it sounds pretty obvious, but it’s good to read it every now and again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mckenzie Ragan

    First time reading Silvia Federici, and I’m not sure how. Caliban & the Witch has been on my ‘to read’ list for several years. Apparently Witches, Witch-Hunting, & Women condenses a lot of the former’s arguments, or at least provides an introduction to them. Some of the essays seem to be laying groundwork for future publications. Essentially, Federici ties witch-hunting from both historical and modern times to the development of capitalism. Obviously there is misogyny and sexism entailed in witc First time reading Silvia Federici, and I’m not sure how. Caliban & the Witch has been on my ‘to read’ list for several years. Apparently Witches, Witch-Hunting, & Women condenses a lot of the former’s arguments, or at least provides an introduction to them. Some of the essays seem to be laying groundwork for future publications. Essentially, Federici ties witch-hunting from both historical and modern times to the development of capitalism. Obviously there is misogyny and sexism entailed in witch-hunting, but there equally is a hatred of woman not just as body but as symbol with looming implications for the capitalist project. With the ascension of enclosure and private property, there was a drive to establish hierarchy, to cement woman’s place in both the family and society – to establish male authority and production and capital accumulation as first priority of the state. Among other things, this meant setting boundaries on the female body and sexuality by defining sexual norms – and deviations. It also meant dousing any flames that might grow to challenge the burgeoning order. Women recognized within their communities as “healers” were viewed with superstitious fear. Fear denotes an admission of power, and the last thing growing authority wants is the idea of competing power, on whatever plane, spreading through society. The mysteries of female sexuality were tied to notions of woman’s ‘magic’. Female sexuality and pleasure, as an economic threat, finds its demonization within the Church (itself engrained in patriarchy and the rise of capitalism). Fear of the feminine and the powers of the witch is redirected in efforts to turn woman against woman: to pursue sex for personal pleasure (not man’s, not for the purpose of producing more laborers), to engage in the healing arts, to act in any way outside of prescribed roles set for woman, or to even associate with women who fall into any of the above categories, is to court the devil and risk damnation. In this way, the patriarchy, the Church, the very economy as defined in terms of a move towards rationality, order, conquest, and plentitude become protectors welcoming ‘good (subservient) women’ into their arms. Different tactics have grown out of this, but it is particularly interesting to consider the pitting of woman against woman we see in today’s political climate. Federici goes on to explore a number of other topics and shades of the above. She explores the evolution of the word ‘gossip’ in one essay, illustrating the way language can be turned against women. She touches on the frequency of lobotomies and commitment to insane asylums for women under shaky pretenses in the early 20th century. She speaks of woman as nurturer, a force holding together community, a noncommercial source of vitality and social structures. She talks about woman as cheap labor, sex trafficking, woman as object of violent male frustrations during times of economic hardship. Witches, Witch-Hunting, & Women is not a book about witches. It is not a history, in that sense anyway. In fact, the word ‘witch’ more than anything else figures into the arguments of these essays as a pejorative, scandal-laced term for a scapegoat. I’m currently reading The Second Sex and am struck by how well many of de Beauvoir’s observations fit with Federici’s, albeit outside of the witch-hunting matrix. I think it shows that any perceived threat to a power – be that power man or capital or a corporation or whatever – will be sought out with particularly vicious application and then snuffed out just as generously, by whatever means available, necessary, or possible to skew as socially sanctioned. I wasn’t aware there were still witch hunts today, but I’m not surprised. Even in the U.S., while burning, drowning, or burying alive may no longer be in practice, we see these things done on a daily basis symbolically. Women are degraded, silenced, questioned, and mocked – and held in the highest regard as long as they stay in line. In Africa, they are killed mercilessly. For all its posturing, the world is as primitive as it ever was.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tess

    Full of glaring historical and factual inaccuracies. This is not a serious attempt to understand the relationships between witch-hunts, gender oppression, sexuality, and the transition to capitalism in Europe. Federici consciously misrepresents material history in order to fit events into her wildly incorrect theoretical framework. Would not recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sara Anselmo

    a fucking masterpiece. a feminist perspective on the creation and development of capitalism, fundamental to complement marx and foucault’s works and theses. can’t wait to deepen this subject through caliban and the witch. the conclusion i take from this is that spooky season ain’t never over for us women

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bridget McGovern

    The content of this book is interesting, as a whole. The shorter, article-type chapters make it an easy, enjoyable, and quick read. The book is mainly what I would assume to be a primer or condensed version of Federici’s more in-depth analyses on the themes introduced. Given that it’s shorter, I was left wanting a deeper analysis, so I would be curious to read Caliban and the Witch. Now, I understand that it’s shorter and she couldn’t go super in-depth, but I did find the research in “Africa” to The content of this book is interesting, as a whole. The shorter, article-type chapters make it an easy, enjoyable, and quick read. The book is mainly what I would assume to be a primer or condensed version of Federici’s more in-depth analyses on the themes introduced. Given that it’s shorter, I was left wanting a deeper analysis, so I would be curious to read Caliban and the Witch. Now, I understand that it’s shorter and she couldn’t go super in-depth, but I did find the research in “Africa” to be extremely superficial. She draws on evidence largely from Ghana and Kenya (often from the same few sources, e.g., Ogembo’s analysis in Ghana), with scattered statistics, stories, and notes from a handful of different African countries. I hardly think this should be used to draw larger generalizations of the 54 countries in Africa. (Of course, the same can be said about her analysis of Europe, but Europe has hardly been through the same reductionist process of Africa on a larger scale.) She also completely neglects to discuss matriarchies, which seems like a massive oversight when you want to analyze witch-hunts of women in regards to land appropriation. For reference/an example, pre-colonial Zambia was roughly 80% matriarchy. This has since shifted since colonialism, but a significant portion of land is still inherited matrilineally. I would rather her not have discussed Africa at all or to just focus on Ghana, Kenya, or Zambia as case studies.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzey B

    This was really interesting to read. A short history of witch-hunts and their continuation in the modern world. Has given much information about violence against women that I was not aware of. Recommend for any one Interested in women’s rights literature.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Have you ever been researching a topic and formed a hypothesis? You continued to research, only to find that the evidence you've collected does not support your hypothesis. At this point, a sensible person would either abandon the topic entirely or rework their hypothesis to address the conclusions provided by the evidence. Silvia Federici did not do this. She clung to her faulty theory like a life raft and tried to paddle her way to a disjointed conclusion. This book has me in an absolute rage. Have you ever been researching a topic and formed a hypothesis? You continued to research, only to find that the evidence you've collected does not support your hypothesis. At this point, a sensible person would either abandon the topic entirely or rework their hypothesis to address the conclusions provided by the evidence. Silvia Federici did not do this. She clung to her faulty theory like a life raft and tried to paddle her way to a disjointed conclusion. This book has me in an absolute rage. I recently added Federici's other book, Caliban and the Witch, to my TBR, but bought this little book first as it's an update to her first book. When I first started reading this, I felt like I maybe should have read Caliban and the Witch first, but by the end of this book, I was glad to read this first so I don't waste my time on the other book. TL;DR: This book is xenophobic and poorly researched. I'm going to make a list to try to organize my thoughts but I am absolutely fuming so no promises on coherency. 1. My first complaint is that this book is horribly xenophobic. Federici routinely refers to "Africa" as if it is a COUNTRY and not a CONTINENT CONSISTING OF MANY COUNTRIES WITH DIFFERENT CULTURES. She assumes that there is one, monolithic "Africa" and this is deeply problematic. I knew I was in for an absolute mess when I encountered this line on page 12: "But if my reading of the witch hunt is correct, then a different historical understanding becomes possible, whereby the African slaves, the expropriated peasants of Africa and Latin America, and the massacred Native population of North America become the kin of the sixteenth and seventeenth century European witches, who, like them, saw their common lands taken away, experienced the hunger produced by the move to cash crops, and saw their resistance persecuted as a sign of a diabolical pact." YIKES! Comparing the persecution of European white women to the institutionalized slave trade that resulted from racist, colonialist empires does NOT sit well with me. On page 52, Federici speaks of the return of witch-hunting in Africa and India and writes "many factors contribute to the resurgence of witch hunts, among them the disintegration of communal solidarity, due to decades of impoverishment and the ravages of AIDS and other diseases in societies where malnutrition is rampant and healthcare systems have collapsed." So many problematic stereotypes here that just smack of her believing that anywhere other than the US, Canada, or Europe are "backwards." No mention of the lasting impacts of empire anywhere in this "analysis." Here is a list of some other problematic instances from her chapter titled "Witch-Hunting, Globalization, and Feminist Solidarity in Africa Today:" "Although the fear of witchcraft is often described as a deep-seated feature of Africa's belief systems, assaults on witches intensified in the 1990s." Comparing the resurgence of persecution in "Africa" to European 17th century witch hunts, Federici writes that we will not find an explanation for this phenomenon by "appealing to the African worldview." "Thousands of children have also been tortured this way in Angola, with the complicity of their parents, probably eager to free themselves from youngsters they can no longer support." this is HORRIBLE! I think it's pretty obvious why it's horrible but yikes, yikes, YIKES. But Africa isn't the only entity subject to Federici's xenophobia. On page 72, she says "Indeed we could not explain such brutality if we did not have both historical precedents and more recent examples coming from other parts of our "global village," like India or Papua New Guinea." girl I..... 2. This book is so poorly researched that I'm amazed it was even published. One of the chapters was published in an academic journal and I'm uncertain how it passed peer review. In fact, Federici herself admits on page 13 that the evidence for her theory is "circumstantial." Federici doesn't cite ANYTHING. She references certain anecdotes and does not cite where they are from. For example, she talks about the history of companion animals and witch hunts on page 22 and doesn't cite where this info came from! How convenient that nobody can verify her work! In addition to lack of citations, Federici doesn't appear to have done any primary source research or really any of her own fact gathering whatsoever. She references other people's work in support of her own theory, but it's clear that she has contributed no original research to this topic. She's just cobbling together other random bits she pulled from others in order to give this Frankenstein-monster-of-a-theory its wings. Speaking of cobbling, she really doesn't say ANYTHING in this book that makes sense. Truly she is just pulling random quotes that suit her ill-fated hypothesis and ignoring everything else. 3. Conclusion: I have never in my life read such a poorly researched, problematic book in my entire life. I can't believe this and Caliban and the Witch are given any scholarly credit. I also can't believe I wasted my time reading this. Truly I would have DNF'd it but I powered through so I could write this review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ali Kheyri

    The main idea was so interesting to me that i buy the book and start to read without hesitation. the introduction makes me even more eager to continue but after chapter 2 i was disappointed. lack of historical evident, absence of clarifying the claim that brought up in introduction destroy the book's structure. i expect something like Foucault's genealogy with many details and subtle hint about witches but instead writer repeat the DE Beauvoir statements about the self-govern women societies. No The main idea was so interesting to me that i buy the book and start to read without hesitation. the introduction makes me even more eager to continue but after chapter 2 i was disappointed. lack of historical evident, absence of clarifying the claim that brought up in introduction destroy the book's structure. i expect something like Foucault's genealogy with many details and subtle hint about witches but instead writer repeat the DE Beauvoir statements about the self-govern women societies. Nothing special. Nothing new. just waste of a wonderful idea

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Murphy

    If you have the time and want to get an in-depth understanding on the connection between the witch hunts and capitalist accumulation, read Federici’s Caliban and the Witch. This book is the popular version of it, meant to raise the questions it asks in the minds of a broader audience. Caliban and the Witch gets into the theoretical and historiographical details and offers a deeper analysis.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Isa

    Perhaps I should have read Caliban and the Witch alongside this, which, I feel, would have given more depth to the arguments that Federici presents here. Don’t get me wrong — as a fan of Federici, I loved how she linked the vilification of (old) women to globalizing forces and how fear of women’s power and autonomy led to there alienation. Still, however, I would have liked if she had given more(?). Further, I would have also liked how she might have linked the arguments to contemporary examples Perhaps I should have read Caliban and the Witch alongside this, which, I feel, would have given more depth to the arguments that Federici presents here. Don’t get me wrong — as a fan of Federici, I loved how she linked the vilification of (old) women to globalizing forces and how fear of women’s power and autonomy led to there alienation. Still, however, I would have liked if she had given more(?). Further, I would have also liked how she might have linked the arguments to contemporary examples witch hunts to give it a bit more salience. That said, I love the points that she did present and how throughout history, there just seems to be a thorough line of controlling women. Her last point about communalism touched on the idea about how cooperative societies might reduce incidences of witch-hunting in society, which was also great! There’s a lot more to say but I’m on my phone so I can’t brain. A side-note, the “we are the daughters of the witches,” etc etc just got really corny. I’m reading this in 2021 and it feels tired at this point.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nabilah

    I don't know if this book is good or not. I mean, there are times when I feel like I get what the author trying to link but then, she lost me because my main issue with this work is that the arguments in it are too vague and lacking with data. I mean, how much the violence toward women changes before and after the birth of Protestantism? Certainly, violence exist even before the rise of bourgeoise morality, right? What about race and ethnicity of the women involved in the witch hunt? Is that not I don't know if this book is good or not. I mean, there are times when I feel like I get what the author trying to link but then, she lost me because my main issue with this work is that the arguments in it are too vague and lacking with data. I mean, how much the violence toward women changes before and after the birth of Protestantism? Certainly, violence exist even before the rise of bourgeoise morality, right? What about race and ethnicity of the women involved in the witch hunt? Is that not a factor as well? Etc etc Anyway, I was told that this book is just compressed form of The Caliban and The Witch. Maybe that's the main issue why this book feels sweeping but I am not sure when I will pick up that book because I have lots of books to read. Maybe i will return to this book once I am done with The Caliban and The Witch.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    think it would have been better to have read Caliban and the Witch first.... as this is sort of an update on it, or maybe a shorter book for getting the general ideas. I thought a lot of it was interesting - particularly liked the gossip chapter but wasn't sure about the witches in africa chapter. I also found the writing a little dense at times. its good, and maybe something to just read an essay out of now and again rather than sit down and read it cover to cover. i think i might go back to it think it would have been better to have read Caliban and the Witch first.... as this is sort of an update on it, or maybe a shorter book for getting the general ideas. I thought a lot of it was interesting - particularly liked the gossip chapter but wasn't sure about the witches in africa chapter. I also found the writing a little dense at times. its good, and maybe something to just read an essay out of now and again rather than sit down and read it cover to cover. i think i might go back to it at some point and would seek out other work by Federici as well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Avni Pravin

    Really phenomenal introduction to Federici's work on witch-hunting and it's direct connection to primitive accumulation. Since it's comprised of shorter chapters/essays, I expect that one would have to read Caliban and the Witch for a more complete understanding of witch-hunting as a tool of a capitalist ruling class. Still, this is a great summary. Really phenomenal introduction to Federici's work on witch-hunting and it's direct connection to primitive accumulation. Since it's comprised of shorter chapters/essays, I expect that one would have to read Caliban and the Witch for a more complete understanding of witch-hunting as a tool of a capitalist ruling class. Still, this is a great summary.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gax

    Tbh I know very little about witch-hunting even in Europe so I felt overwhelmed by the amount of numbers shown about Africa or other continents. I wouldn't recommend it as a starting book, but definitely lead to very interesting google searches and I learned a lot. It's just unbelievable how our society is built upon so much pain infricted to women... Tbh I know very little about witch-hunting even in Europe so I felt overwhelmed by the amount of numbers shown about Africa or other continents. I wouldn't recommend it as a starting book, but definitely lead to very interesting google searches and I learned a lot. It's just unbelievable how our society is built upon so much pain infricted to women...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julia Diotallevi

    A fantastic collection of essays, this book brought Federici to my attention and she has since become one of my favourite thinkers. The blend of sociology, history, cultural theory, and socialist politic in this book provides a captivating read that will send you into deeper contemplation when you are finished.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sorcha

    4.5, this was such an interesting and troubling read, and also very concise and accessible. would STRONGLY recommend to anyone interested in history and feminism, anti colonialist and anti capitalist political theories

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura Kovácsová

    “Violence against women did not disappear with the end of the witch hunts and the abolition of slavery. On the contrary, it was normalized.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Holiday

    A brief book about the historical witch hunts and present day witch hunts and how the forces of capitalism contribute to these massacres against (mainly) women.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but how could I possibly resist that little black-and-purple, tattoo-art number, contrasting so beautifully with the neutrals of the Hauswitch shop floor? And especially emblazoned with those enticing words: Witches, Witch-Hunting and Women, by Silvia Federici. Alas, my love for slim purple volumes has again landed me in a world of disappointment. Unlike the pirate book, however, this book isn't actually bad, and the problem is hardly tha I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but how could I possibly resist that little black-and-purple, tattoo-art number, contrasting so beautifully with the neutrals of the Hauswitch shop floor? And especially emblazoned with those enticing words: Witches, Witch-Hunting and Women, by Silvia Federici. Alas, my love for slim purple volumes has again landed me in a world of disappointment. Unlike the pirate book, however, this book isn't actually bad, and the problem is hardly that the subject matter barely exists. In fact, the only real issue I had with this book is one that I walked squarely into by picking up this book instead of Caliban and the Witch, like a lazy dumbass. Namely: This book is very short, barely 100 pages; it's meant to build on and update the arguments in Caliban and the Witch; and is largely (to the extent that there is a "largely" in a book this small) transcripts of talks that Federici has given rather than being stuff that was developed to be read as serious academic theory. The result is bite-sized; vague; a bit sweeping; and frequently lacking in dates, statistics, specific locations, explanations of how precisely increases and decreases in violence are being measured, methodology, and other such stuff I expect to find in serious scholarly works -- probably because it isn't one. I should have sucked it up and suggested we read Caliban and the Witch instead, as now I have to go read Caliban and the Witch on my own, with no book club, and only some weird lefty podcasts and YouTube videos to share it with, which is not the same at all as actually having in-person book clubs where I can participate in the discussion instead of merely consuming it. The biggest issues with the very condensed format ended up being a) feudalism seemed to get sort of glossed over or even squished out of history sometimes, like we went straight from pagan Dark Ages stuff and then Christianification and the birth of capitalism were talked about at the same time, sort of like they were the same thing, even though I think there was several centuries of Christian feudalism in between there, and b) claims of violence against women "increasing," rather than changing form, with little discussion of how we were measuring violence or what constitutes violence or how we knew there was less of it beforehand, which is the sort of thing that pings a little "alarmist rhetoric alert" bell in my head. I am sure that violence increases and decreases, societies go through periods of stability and instability, but I expect a little more backing before I'm willing to just take it as fact that a disruptive or unstable period necessarily means that violence, overall, is increasing rather than becoming more visible. A lot of very stable societies have a lot of institutionalized violence as part of their everyday operation, even if they don't have people being cut down in the streets the way a war zone does. The rhetoric here gets a bit more solid as the scale shrinks to discussions of specific forms of economic and social violence in the "new witch hunts" in India and Africa, where she does discuss particular economic policies and institutions in particular countries. And with some actual content to illustrate it with, the theory gets a lot more interesting! The influence of American fundamentalist sects on Africa and the other colonized nations where they do "mission work" is something that ought to be of as much concern as the actions of the big institutions of international governance, but it's also worth noting that "witch hunting," while popularly portrayed as some backward medieval mystical shit -- after all, who believes in witches? -- is essentially a playbook for capital accumulation. Anyway, I'm weighing the likelihood of my being able to squeeze in a read of Caliban and the Witch before Memorial Day weekend, and the forecast doesn't look good. Originally posted at The witch as a lazybones whomst doesn't read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adele

    I give this two stars for the brief but excellent overview of witch trials in Europe and the parallels with the commodification of humans for profit. I found the chapter on “gossip” particularly interesting and the misogyny behind the reinterpretation of language that is so widespread. The final chapter on witch trials in Africa and India was highly problematic reading and left me feeling deeply uncomfortable. Silvia Federici’s account is racist and draws conclusions and parallels specifically ar I give this two stars for the brief but excellent overview of witch trials in Europe and the parallels with the commodification of humans for profit. I found the chapter on “gossip” particularly interesting and the misogyny behind the reinterpretation of language that is so widespread. The final chapter on witch trials in Africa and India was highly problematic reading and left me feeling deeply uncomfortable. Silvia Federici’s account is racist and draws conclusions and parallels specifically around themes such as “development” which are condescending and simplistic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Louise Hewett

    I decided to read this short book before reading Caliban and the Witch, and it has seriously whet my appetite for the more detailed exploration of the violent transformation from feudalism to capitalism achieved over the bodies of women. The essay regarding the meaning, and devaluation, of the word "gossip" was interesting, and tragic. Recommended. I decided to read this short book before reading Caliban and the Witch, and it has seriously whet my appetite for the more detailed exploration of the violent transformation from feudalism to capitalism achieved over the bodies of women. The essay regarding the meaning, and devaluation, of the word "gossip" was interesting, and tragic. Recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karolína Kašparová

    This is meant to be a summery of Caliban and the Witch (wonderful book but occasionally difficult to read), enriched by further plans for research and the depiction of how the same phenomena surrounding witch-hunting manifest themselves today. It might be enlightening for someone who has never come across Federici but I was slightly annoyed by the repetitiveness of the book. It sometimes felt as if she was trying to lecture someone who kept forgetting Federici's main argument every 15 minutes. This is meant to be a summery of Caliban and the Witch (wonderful book but occasionally difficult to read), enriched by further plans for research and the depiction of how the same phenomena surrounding witch-hunting manifest themselves today. It might be enlightening for someone who has never come across Federici but I was slightly annoyed by the repetitiveness of the book. It sometimes felt as if she was trying to lecture someone who kept forgetting Federici's main argument every 15 minutes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vari Robinson

    Really interesting and important to think about where witch-hunting stems from and why it is still in practice in so many countries. It is due to capitalism and is truly an attack on women’s bodies (and non-conforming individuals) as means of taking away autonomy and land. I had no idea witch hunting as a reason to murder women (especially older women) was still so common in various countries, and this definitely opened my eyes to that. Highly recommend.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mela

    "womxn's integration in the global economy is a violent process" // witch hunting still happens! important and quick. must get hands on other works by federici...... "womxn's integration in the global economy is a violent process" // witch hunting still happens! important and quick. must get hands on other works by federici......

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jesper Döpping

    Important topic - but to fast in its arguments I admittedly bought this book, because the authors Caliban and the witch wasn’t available electronically. This is a popular version and therefore also simplified in its argument. Despite that I believe the book unnecessarily simplifies what is and was at stake in the Middle Ages and today. Since the author starts with the Danish “midsummer Visen”. I have to point out that there are important common misunderstandings in the presentation and when it is Important topic - but to fast in its arguments I admittedly bought this book, because the authors Caliban and the witch wasn’t available electronically. This is a popular version and therefore also simplified in its argument. Despite that I believe the book unnecessarily simplifies what is and was at stake in the Middle Ages and today. Since the author starts with the Danish “midsummer Visen”. I have to point out that there are important common misunderstandings in the presentation and when it is read from an english language perspective. In Drachmann’s lyrics Hekse and trolde refers directly to the Nordic Norse mythology and the opposition between jætter (the creatures that don’t want anything good for the human) and the Aser (the protectors of the humans). Yet even though jætter and aser disagrees they also intermarry (eg frey). Trolde and hekse are a reference to jætter - trolde is primarily gendered male, hekse are primarily female. Drachmann’s Song it is those not per see an issue of burning human women - it in fact became an issue of primarily women - who apparently have metamorphosed in to jætter! What the author is right about is that the inquisition, the witch hunt in practice becomes a direct assault on the common, trade, money and in particular women. Scandinavia is here interesting, because the practice of Christianity arrives late and is done in a foreign language not understandable for the majority of people. The Norse believes - which have strong similarities all over the Germanic influenced areas - have gods and social practices that directly oppose the Christian church. The practice of medicine is both protected by a female goddess (Eir) and practiced by women, Freya is the goddess of sex, fertility etc. Var is the goddess of contracts and oaths in particular in relation to making marriage oaths! Frigg the protector of marriage. Add to this that up until after the reformation daily trade was done in a debt system devoid of money and practiced by women. I think there are reasons to believe that Germanic women had a significant place as did their goddess in the daily life of the Germanic and Norse populations. Despite becoming increasingly Christian these practice seems to have been very sticky and most importantly keeping the monasteries and the church influence at bay. These leads to my main objection - the suppression of women is a fight about ontologies and power. The Catholic Church ontologies places the clergy in center of all women’s practices, and the pagan ontology is directly against it. You find further evidence of this in the Danish Jyske lov (codified in 1241). This law places the task of overseeing judgement with the king and the chiefs and ensure “rights and save those who have been unjustly forced, in particular the widows, defenseless children, pilgrims, foreigners and the poor”. The law explicit say the law most be “bearable”, in accordance with “local customs”, it most be understandable, and nobody will have special rights! At the same time the church is relegated to the area inside the church and monasteries. This law is not replaced before 1683. Those witch burning and suppression of women - is about the clergies position and their ontology - not capitalism a concept not known! It is about the import of a middle eastern Judea-Christian-Islamic worldview that in steps places the clergy at the center. A clergy, that in the beginning is against merchants, interest rates and aligned with the aristocrats. That changes with the reformation. If we read authors final chapter on especially Africa, we find a new evangelical/Lutheran alliance against both women’s place in society, ontologies of life, reproduction, and self interest - which deliberately destroys the common, customs (African women also are historical the main traders in everyday goods see Guyer 2004). In the African case we find a modern “neoliberal capitalism” alliance with an ontology of women which is taken out of the Judea-Christian-Islamic ontology. Just as we today in US see a republican neoliberal alliance with the evangelicals, which are Individualizing people and take control of in particular women’s bodies. Despite my objections, it is still a good and fast read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Linde

    This book states the premise that “an analysis of new witch hunts, like other forms of violence against women” is in order. Sylvia Federici, identifies the ongoing female witch hunt as a function of hyperbolic patriotism within the domain of capitalism, land enclosure and “religion and the regurgitation of the most misogynous biases against women providing the ideological justification.” Federici denotes historically it was the most poverty stricken women accused and murdered as witches. Poverty This book states the premise that “an analysis of new witch hunts, like other forms of violence against women” is in order. Sylvia Federici, identifies the ongoing female witch hunt as a function of hyperbolic patriotism within the domain of capitalism, land enclosure and “religion and the regurgitation of the most misogynous biases against women providing the ideological justification.” Federici denotes historically it was the most poverty stricken women accused and murdered as witches. Poverty is a sign of a failing capitalist economy. An over-patriotic society scapegoats, instead of addresses and corrects. It was the women who resisted poverty, who were accused of “stirring up trouble” who were predominantly burned at the stake. This book exemplifies female standards of acceptability, such as wifely female obedience, reproductive obligation, female submissiveness, and devaluation of women, especially when they are old, that predominately define what it is to be valued as a female in a male dominated religious, patriotic and capitalistic society where women are exploited for unpaid domestic work, financial gain and systematically reduced to a product of sexual value, and punished by an inherited precedence of social violence and humiliation for failing to conform. “We must think of an enclosure of knowledge, of our bodies, and of our relationship to other people and nature.” - Sylvia Federici The author provides numerous historical standards of treatment of women that have been somehow buried under mass documentation and alarms the reader to a new female awareness and required intervention aspired for the right to live a dignified female life. The reader learns that women depicted as perpetrators of “gossip” or “evil speech” were paraded through the streets in 1547 Scotland with a device in their mouth that forced their mouth open by 2 inches lest a scaffolding device lacerate her tongue. A weapon intended to prohibit women from unifying together and that similar torture devices and rituals were inflicted against women worldwide. Federici parallels this female torture device to male forced female voice exclusion in making critical life changing decisions in business, religious organizations and male dominated power structures worldwide. This book educates the reader that despite an effort toward feminist empowerment the stigma of women as witches continues as a vehicle of justified female murder in modern day. Between 1991 and 2001 at least 23,000 ‘witches’ were killed in Africa in broad daylight with impunity. Beyond that, these female witch murders continue in Africa and parts of India and feminists (and the media) fail to step up. In modern day India there is an escalation of dowry murders in order to remarry to acquire new money in the form of a tradition of men abandoning their "ex" by murder by fire. Encouragingly, the Indian culture protested and attempts to shame the men who exploit women as a commodity wiith mocking theater exemplifications. From this book, a new feminine awareness can be found, from the disclosure of the transformation of historic social beliefs by evolution to modern day female oppression. Globally, the witch hunt is still on, or has morphed into different forms and has failed to be addressed in a humanitarian effort and held accountable as the crime against humanity that it is. The author stresses, an intervention is urgently required and an ongoing elephant in the room for feminists worldwide. Brilliantly the author states, "the magic is that we know that we know.”

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