Silvia Federici talks about Beyond the Periphery of the Skin

By Patrick Farnsworth
Last Born in the Wilderness
July 10th, 2020

In this episode, I speak with feminist writer and teacher Silvia Federici. We discuss the themes of her new book ‘Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism’ published through PM Press. 

The body—our sense of “self” in relation to others—has been restricted, reduced, and mutilated under Capitalism and the impositions of the State. This is particularly true with women, as Federici has thoroughly examined throughout her decades of research, in particular with her seminal work ‘Caliban and the Witch,’ which lucidly explores the brutal transformation European populations were forced to endure as these societies began to transition to the social order of Capitalism, now global in scope and reach. Occurring over centuries, this transition—with the enclosure of the Commons and the femicidal witch hunts— dramatically restricted of the sovereignty of the peasant class and brutalized the bodies of women. This process was fundamental in the constriction of the individual and its relations “beyond the periphery of the skin,” the consequences of which we can see up to the present moment.  

“More than ever, “the body” is today at the center of radical and institutional politics. Feminist, antiracist, trans, ecological movements—all look at the body in its manifold manifestations as a ground of confrontation with the state and a vehicle for transformative social practices.

Concurrently, the body has become a signifier for the reproduction crisis the neoliberal turn in capitalist development has generated and for the international surge in institutional repression and public violence. In ‘Beyond the Periphery of the Skin’, lifelong activist and best-selling author Silvia Federici examines these complex processes, placing them in the context of the history of the capitalist transformation of the body into a work-machine, expanding on one of the main subjects of her first book, ‘Caliban and the Witch.’” (

Silvia Federici is a feminist writer, teacher, and militant. In 1972 she was cofounder of the International Feminist Collective that launched the Wages for Housework campaign. Her books include ‘Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women’; Caliban and the Witch’; ‘Re-enchanting the World’; and ‘Revolution at Point Zero’. She is a professor emerita of social sciences at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. She worked as a teacher in Nigeria for many years and was also the cofounder of the Committee for Academic Freedom for Africa.

Episode Notes:

  • Learn more about and purchase a copy of ‘Beyond the Periphery of the Skin’ from PM Press:
  • The song featured in this episode is “Nyakinyua Rise” by Jlin from the album Black Origami:
Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism

Back to Silvia Federici’s Author Page