Witch Hunts and Enclosures: Bodies, Land and Women— Silvia Federici on Making Contact

By Making Contact
April 8th, 2020

How are witch hunts and Capitalist economies linked? Silvia Federici, wrote the groundbreaking book, Caliban and the Witch.  In that book she argues that the witch hunts of the fifteenth century were a necessary pre-condition for Capitalism to flourish. Just as the enclosures of the middle ages created a population of landless peasants, women were experiencing a simultaneous enclosure, the enclosure of their bodies.

Women’s speech, movement and social relationship were tightly controlled with the help of witch hunts and accusations of witchcraft made of poor, peasant women, partly in an effort to dispossess them of the land they lived on.

Today, witch hunts are still happening, in places like East Timor, India and Cambodia. Federici, who never really left the subject of witch hunts, returns to the topic with her book, Women Witches and Witch Hunts. She looks back to the witch hunts of the middle ages and sees them replaying today, in countries that are newly adopting capitalism as an economic model.

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Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women

Back to Silvia Federici’s Author Page