Who is this course for?

Caliban and the Witch in a Time of COVID-19 is available for enrollment within The Mentor-Scholar Program. Organizations may also purchase the curriculum for self-study professional development.

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?

  • Historical Connections

    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.

  • Economic Healing

    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.

Caliban and the Witch in a Time of COVID-19 teaches feminist analysis to:

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.

Caliban and the Witch in a Time of COVID-19

$1297/participant
Available within The Mentor-Scholar Program and Feminist Leadership Trainings

  • 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.

We heal our economy by reimagining...

what patriarchal racial capitalism taught us to believe about ourselves and one another.

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. 

  • Why study Caliban and the Witch?

    Silvia Federici's classic book investigates why hundreds of thousands of women were killed as "witches" in the development of capitalism. Male historians had overlooked the significance of a systemic targeting of women within Europe during the rise of capitalism, the transatlantic slave trade, and western colonialism.

  • Why did mystics, heretics, midwives, herbalists, and single women so threaten the economic and religious order that widescale violence was used to suppress their voices?

    In short, capitalism had to target specific ways of knowing, ways of being, and ways of kinship. Just as capitalism was built off enslaved labor in the colonies, it also had to do violence to women within Europe.

  • Why does Federici write so much on the enclosures of land and the effects on women?

    Just as land was enclosed within Europe (the loss of the commons) in the development of capitalism, land was taken over in the colonies from Indigenous peoples. Patriarchy and the development of modern racial hierarchies were entwined from the beginning of capitalism.



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