Caliban and the witch

by Silvia Federici

Paper Book, 2004


A history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and the conflict between body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labor power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization.



Call number



New York : [London : Autonomedia ; Pluto, distributor], 2004.

User reviews

LibraryThing member greeniezona
A fascinating book I may never have heard of except for the brief experiment that was Bitches with Bookmarks (an attempted online book club). This was our second (and probably last) book.

Anyway, it's a book about the history of capitalism, especially how it affected the role of women in society.
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How the costs of production -- reproduction, caring for and feeding a family -- were outsourced, how women's knowledge and wisdom was undermined and devalued, how the period of witch hunts served to collectively break the resistance of all women, and to separate them from an earlier society in which they had more respect and autonomy.

Full of ideas and contexts that hadn't occurred to me before -- this book blew my mind on a regular basis. Not a perfect book -- some arguments felt like overreaches, but considering the scope of history it's discussing, and the slimness of the volume, it packs quite a wallop.

Will definitely affect the lens through which I examine history for quite some time.
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LibraryThing member kwkslvr
Haven't finished the preface as yet but have already found much of interest and much to ponder on.This is not the type of volume to be picked up as a bit of light entertainment. It will, almost certainly, provide opportunities for research and intellectual fact-finding that may tie a number of
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seemingly unrelated issues together. Naturalistic sociology and the perceived function of homosexuals in society, classism and the naming of names, results in society of a capitalist worldview as related to the functioning of the nuclear family in relation to the community at large, to name just a few.
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LibraryThing member elahrairah
A fantastic read that shows that the subjugation of women via the witch trial was part of a process of 'capitalismisation' that started with enclosures and continues via slavery and colonisation to the globalised world of today.


Original publication date



1570270597 / 9781570270598
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