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Murielle Morger and Eva Schneuwly on Caliban and the Witch

28 June, 2021

The story of Caliban and the Witch begins in times of upheaval. Society continues to evolve and starts to put the capital in the foreground. It seeks to increase efficiency. We can read this story from different viewpoints, but we decide to read ‘the “transition” from feudalism to capitalism from the viewpoint of women, the body, and primitive accumulation.’ We were interested in how Silvia Federici described this primitive accumulation by a set of historical phenomena:

‘the development of a new sexual division of labor subjugating women’s labor and women’s reproductive function to the reproduction of the workforce.’

‘the construction of a new patriarchal order, based upon the exclusion of women from waged work and their subordination to men.’

‘the mechanization of the proletarian body and its transformation, in the case of women, into a machine for the production of new workers.’

It reveals a world of oppression. The woman is assigned a clear role. But not all participated in the role play. Those who stepped out of line were persecuted. ‘The heretic, the healer, the disobedient wife, the woman who dared to live alone, the obeah woman who poisoned the master’s food and inspired the slaves to revolt’ or in a nutshell: witches. They were accused of witchcraft in court, condemned for it, and then publicly executed. These phenomena speak a sombre language. Words like suppression, exploitation, primitive accumulation, capitalism, and dependency are describing these times. But against all the cruelty, there was a resistance building up. And this was and still is important: to dare to stand up against greater powers, even if it may seem pointless. For today, we wish that these negatively connoted terms can be transformed: to synergy, to collaboration, to sustainability, and to independence. And if you look closely, you can recognize some modern witches out there that bring us closer to this goal. They appear in very different forms all around us and hopefully, many more will emerge.

Murielle Morger and Eva Schneuwly on Caliban and the Witch

The story of Caliban and the Witch begins in times of upheaval. Society continues to evolve and starts to put the capital in the foreground. It seeks to increase efficiency. We can read this story from different viewpoints, but we decide to read ‘the “transition” from feudalism to capitalism from the viewpoint of women, the […]