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Silvia Federici

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Silvia Federici is a feminist activist, writer, and a teacher. In 1972 she was one of the cofounders of the International Feminist Collective, the organization that launched the Wages For Housework campaign internationally. In the 1990s, after a period of teaching and research in Nigeria, she was active in the anti-globalization movement and the U.S. anti–death penalty movement. She is one of the co-founders of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, an organization dedicated to generating support for the struggles of students and teachers in Africa against the structural adjustment of African economies and educational systems. From 1987 to 2005 she taught international studies, women studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. All through these years she has written books and essays on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education and culture, and more recently the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons.

Silvia & Peter Linebaugh talking about Commoning Our Cities on The Laura Flanders Show

Check out Silvia Federici speaking at the 2018 Antipode AAG Lecture – “Between the Wage and the Commons: Directions for a New Feminist"

Check out Silvia Federici speaking at the Historical Materialism Conference in London, 2012.

Purchasing Links

Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons
AAuthor: Silvia Federici • Foreword: Peter Linebaugh
Publisher: PM Press / Kairos
ISBN: 978-1-62963-569-9
Published: 11/01/2018
Format: Paperback
Size: 6x9
Page count: 256
Subjects: Women’s Studies-Feminism / Politics-Marxism / History

Silvia Federici is one of the most important contemporary theorists of capitalism and feminist movements. In this collection of her work spanning over twenty years, she provides a detailed history and critique of the politics of the commons from a feminist perspective. In her clear and combative voice, Federici provides readers with an analysis of some of the key issues and debates in contemporary thinking on this subject.

Drawing on rich historical research, she maps the connections between the previous forms of enclosure that occurred with the birth of capitalism and the destruction of the commons and the “new enclosures” at the heart of the present phase of global capitalist accumulation. Considering the commons from a feminist perspective, this collection centers on women and reproductive work as crucial to both our economic survival and the construction of a world free from the hierarchies and divisions capital has planted in the body of the world proletariat. Federici is clear that the commons should not be understood as happy islands in a sea of exploitative relations but rather autonomous spaces from which to challenge the existing capitalist organization of life and labor.

“Silvia Federici’s theoretical capacity to articulate the plurality that fuels the contemporary movement of women in struggle provides a true toolbox for building bridges between different features and different people.”
—Massimo De Angelis, professor of political economy, University of East London

“Silvia Federici’s work embodies an energy that urges us to rejuvenate struggles against all types of exploitation and, precisely for that reason, her work produces a common: a common sense of the dissidence that creates a community in struggle.”
—Maria Mies, coauthor of Ecofeminism

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Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women
Author: Silvia Federici
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-568-2
Published: 10/01/2018
Format: Paperback
Size: 5x8
Page count: 120
Subjects: Women’s Studies-Feminism / History / Politics-Marxism

We are 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 relations. In this new work that revisits some of the main themes of Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici examines the root causes of these developments and outlines the consequences for the women affected and their communities. She argues that, no less than the witch hunts in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe and the “New World,” this new war on women 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, what we discover behind today’s violence against women are processes of enclosure, land dispossession, and the remolding of women’s reproductive activities and subjectivity.

As well as an investigation into the causes of this new violence, the book is also a feminist call to arms. Federici’s work provides new ways of understanding the methods in which women are resisting victimization and offers a powerful reminder that reconstructing the memory of the past is crucial for the struggles of the present.

“It is good to think with Silvia Federici, whose clarity of analysis and passionate vision come through in essays that chronicle enclosure and dispossession, witch-hunting and other assaults against women, in the present, no less than the past. It is even better to act armed with her insights.”
—Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Silvia Federici’s new book offers a brilliant analysis and forceful denunciation of the violence directed towards women and their communities. Her focus moves between women criminalized as witches both at the dawn of capitalism and in contemporary globalization. Federici has updated the material from her well-known book Caliban and the Witch and brings a spotlight to the current resistance and alternatives being pursued by women and their communities through struggle.”
—Massimo De Angelis, professor of political economy, University of East London

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Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle
Author: Silvia Federici
Publisher: PM Press/Common Notions
ISBN: 978-1-60486-333-8
Published August 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 208 Pages
Subjects: Women's Studies/Politics/Sociology

Written between 1974 and 2012, the essays collected in this volume represent forty years of research and theorizing on questions of social reproduction and the transformations which the globalization process has produced. Originally inspired by Federici’s organizational work in the Wages For Housework movement, topics discussed include the international restructuring of reproductive work and its effects on the sexual division of labor, the globalization of care work and sex work, the crisis of elder care, and the development of affective labor. Though theoretical in style, the book is written in an explanatory manner that makes it both accessible to a broad public and ideal for classroom use.


“Finally we have a volume that collects the many essays that over a period of four decades Silvia Federici has written on the question of social reproduction and women’s struggles on this terrain. While providing a powerful history of the changes in the organization of reproductive labor, Revolution at Point Zero documents the development of Federici’s thought on some of the most important questions of our time: globalization, gender relations, the construction of new commons.”
—Mariarosa Dalla Costa

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What Others are Saying


Interviews & Mentions

witchesSilvia Federici On Witch Hunts, Body Politics & Rituals of Resistance
By Sarah Lyons
February 15th, 2019

"Her landmark book on the subject, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, is twenty years old this year. The book is an investigation into the roots of capitalism, and its genesis through the great witch trials of Europe alongside European colonization of the New World. The work remains a scathing indictment of the patriarchal violence inherent to capitalism and places the figure of the witch at the center of the fight against capital...."

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witchesWitches, Witch-Hunting, and Women: A Review
By Jessica White
Red Pepper
December 31st, 2018

Federici’s attempt to draw together the work of feminists and activist from different parts of the world and place them in historical context is brave, thought-provoking and timely. Federici’s writing is lucid and her fury palpable.

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witchesWitches, Witch-Hunting, and Women: An Excerpt
New Frame
October 1, 2018

From the spread of new forms of witch-hunting in various regions of the world to the worldwide escalation of the number of women murdered daily, the evidence is mounting that a new war is being waged against women. What are its motivations and the logic behind it? 

Building upon a growing body of literature on this topic, mostly produced by feminist activists and scholars from Latin America, I address this question by placing the new forms of violence in a historical context and examining the impact of capitalist development, past and present, on women’s lives and gender relations.

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witchesThis is Not a Witch Hunt
by Jonathan Beecher Field
Boston Review
October 30th, 2018

In her new monograph, Witches, Witch Hunting and Women, Silvia Federici condemns the commercialization of sites of witch hunts in Europe: “Sites of famous trials and persecutions that led to the execution of dozens of women are now parading in shop after shop doll-like representations of witches.” In Salem, the exploitation of this suffering is perhaps still more extreme, especially around Halloween. The trials have become a major part of the town’s culture and economy, unimpeded by the small detail that Danvers, one town over from present-day Salem, was the actual site for most of the witch trials. Trivializing the death of those convicted of witchcraft—mainly women—is a form of violence, and Federici challenges us to consider that “denouncing the commerce made of women’s bodies and their death to boost tourism” is an important step in toppling patriarchal domination. By extension, one could argue that the flagrant misuse of the term “witch hunt” as a political meme also abuses the memory of those who were actually hunted as witches.

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revolution at point zeroRevolution At the Witching Hour: The Legacy of Midnight Notes
by James Lindenschmidt
Gods & Radicals Journal
September 2015

As previously stated, Silvia Federici is the feminist of these three thinkers. Revolution at Point Zero, an anthology of her work over the past 40 years, all of which explore the “zero point of revolution” which is where “new social relations first burst forth, from which countless waves ripple outward into other domains.” It, too, is divided into three parts. Part 1 is Theorizing and Politicizing Housework, containing her earlier, foundational work such as “Wages Against Housework” from 1975, as well as “Why Sexuality Is Work” and “Putting Feminism Back on Its Feet.” Part 2 is Globalization and Social Reproduction, and contains 4 essays including “Women, Globalization, and the International Women’s Movement.”

Part 3, Reproducing Commons, has her most recent work including “Feminism and the Politics of the Common in an Era of Primitive Accumulation” from 2010, which contains the powerful argument that there is an “oblivion” in “our blindness to the blood in the food we eat, the petroleum we use, the clothes we wear, the computers with which we communicate.”

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revolutionRevolution at Point Zero: A Review
by Emma Dowling
Feminist Review
(2014) 106

Revolutions do not simply result from changes at the top of a regime, from the replacement of one leader for another. Real transformations occur when the social relations that make up everyday life change, when there is a revolution within and across the stratifications of the social body. In Revolution at Point Zero, feminist scholar and activist Silvia Federici offers the kind of revolutionary perspective that is capable of revealing the obstacles that stand in the way of such change.

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revolutionRefusing the Planetary Work Machine: A Review of Revolution at Point Zero and In Letterts of Blood and Fire
by Kevin Van Meter
Perspectives Journal

"Revolution at Point Zero8 opens with Federici’s 1975 essay “Wages against Housework.” Challenging the notion that the wages for housework demand was simply about the figure of the housewife and wages due, she argues that “[w]ages for housework [...] is a revolutionary demand not because by itself it destroys capital, but because it forces capital to restructure social relations in terms more favorable to us and consequently more favorable to the unity of the class.”9 Put clearly, the demand is for the unwaged work of social reproduction – that is, the reproduction of a particularly important commodity for capital: the workers’ ability to work– to be recognized as such through its refusal. Hence the refusal of gendered, unwaged work is part of class struggle and a class project beyond capital’s imposition of such work. Earlier in the chapter she notes, “women have always found ways of fighting back, or getting back at them, but always in an isolated and privatized way. .."

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revolutionMore Smiles? More Money: Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle: A Review
By Dayna Tortorici
n +1
August 19th, 2013

This shift in style and focus coincides with a gap in Revolution at Point Zero, between 1984 and 1999. For two of those years Federici taught in Nigeria — years she described as “a turning point” for that country, as international pressures forced a program of “economic recovery” that would leave most Nigerians impoverished and destabilized. Witnessing this process firsthand influenced Federici’s later work, and her urgency to communicate what she saw trims the fat from her prose, if also the flair. When she writes about the effects of structural adjustment in 1999 — describing how new economic policies “solved” the housework crisis in Europe, the US, and Canada by “incentivizing migration,” pulling women from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the former socialist countries to do the domestic work middle-class women in the West no longer would — facts argue for themselves. Similarly, in an essay about how humanitarian intervention and food aid are anything but — creating unstable governments and food dependency, clearing the ground for multinational industry — she turns to research and journalism when invective and critical introspection no longer suffice. Federici calls on feminists to take action: to support the cancellation of “third world debt”; to demand an end to structural adjustment; to “organize against the recolonization attempt of which NIDL [the new international division of labor] is a vehicle.” It isn’t new for her to tell readers what to do, but it is new for her to tell them what to know.

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revolutionRevolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle: A Review
by Joshua Eichen
Mute Magazine
22 November 2012

In 2012, we all pay at least lip service to the entanglements of class, gender, and race when not also struggling to incorporate other threads into our explanatory frameworks and actions. So when you come across clarity of vision that precisely explains those relations, one can only marvel that it was written 37 years ago and try not to be too dismayed that it isn’t more widely known. Hopefully this new collection of work by Silvia Federici will change that.

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revolutionRevolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle: Book of the Year
by Sean McGovern
Books of the Year — As Chosen by Verso
December 19th, 2012

It’s been an absurd length of time since Silvia Federici has published and her plenary talk at this year’s HM conference in London shows why her perspective has been so influential. So it was great to see a new collection of her essays.

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revolutionRevolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle: A Review
by Seth Sandronsky
Z Magazine
December 2012

As Federici shows with examples from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, women are on the front lines of commoning. She unveils how and why they resist the corporate takeover of subsistence farming, explaining the land question as central to women’s lives. Mutual aid and solidarity of oppressed women are more than symbolic. We see here transforming acts of solidarity against the logic of capitalist relations that rely upon sever ing people’s access to land. Reading Federici em powers us to reconnect with what is at the core of human development, women’s labor-intensive caregiving—a radical rethinking of how we live.

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revolutionRevolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle: A Review
by Nicholas Beuret
Red Pepper Magazine
October/November 2012

In this edited collection several key analytical highlights stand out. The first is the insight that unwaged work – in the home and the colonies – is the foundation of capitalism. A campaign against unwaged labour, like the fight against colonial rule, was (and still is) crucial to ‘break the processes of capital accumulation’.

The second is the denaturalisation of gender roles: the fact that housework is not ‘naturally’ women’s work but emerged as a naturalised social role at the same time as (male) waged work. Both the housewife and the waged worker are capitalist social roles.

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