Federici brilliantly connects this history of witch hunts to western colonialism, racial hierarchies, and slavery; to the continued enclosure of land; and to the exploitation and devaluation of women's unpaid labor in the home.
Real Life Applications
Capitalism runs on making women's labor invisible, just as it runs on racial and class-based hierarchies. Deepening our understanding of these entwined systems help us re-envision anew what a feminist economy could look like, starting with our own communities.
We heal our economy by reimagining what patriarchal racial capitalism has taught us to believe about ourselves and one another. We connect economic justice to our fundamental interdependence with one another, other-than-human life, and the earth.
It has been clear during the pandemic that women do much of the invisible care labor in patriarchal economies. Silvia Federici's longtime feminist work on how the economy exploits and exhausts women, as reported recently in The New York Times, is getting more attention.
This course draws on Silvia Federici's classic research on the European witch hunts and the development of capitalism in her book, Caliban and the Witch. Studying this landmark feminist text, with help from our 15 course lectures and 105 Meditations Workbook, will give you a feminist analysis for confronting what the pandemic has revealed about capitalism: Namely, it is a system specifically designed, from its inception, to run on invisible unpaid gendered labor and low-paid racialized labor. We will thus ask: What would a truly feminist economy actually look like?
Understand the relationship between enslaved labor, waged labor, and unwaged labor in the transition to capitalism.
Unpack how patriarchal Christian religious hierarchies perpetuated colonial racial hierarchies.
Perceive a lost history—i.e. how women resisted patriarchal power; how the poor revolted against enclosures of the commons within Europe; and how the witch hunts inflamed misogyny to suppress and divide movements for change.
Contemplate that to heal patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy, we need to feel and analyze how the daily exhaustion these systems perpetuate—especially on women's bodies— impacts our capacity to tear injustice down.
Start to build together the practices to imagine and create new feminist economies for our justice-making that sustain the labors of transformation.
5.5 hours of teachings, broken into 15 digestible lectures of key concepts + lecture transcriptions (131 pages) for visual learners.
105 Meditations Caliban Course Workbook (122 pages).
Trauma-informed teaching and contemplative writing prompts for holistic feminist learning practices.
For those who are inspired toward more learning: Recommended additional scholarly readings to deepen ideas across fields of study (including religious studies, ethnic studies, Indigenous studies, and Black studies).
Teachings for how to link concepts— as we move between historical study, contemplative reflections on lived and embodied experiences today—and how we imagine and co-create feminist social change.
When we consider why women were targeted in Europe's witch hunts, alongside studying the rise of capitalism and western colonial racial violence, we gain tools to see there was always resistance. In fact, Federici argues the violence of capitalism was actually a counter-revolution to the progressive social and theological revolutions underway.
In the course lectures, you can learn how to defy the values of a capitalist system based on violence, exhaustion, exploitation, class/race/gender/religious hierarchy, and separation from one another. We can name, recognize, and support the forms of invisible labor that sustain life and change the world.