New! Audio footage from Silvia Federici at Goldsmiths University (London, UK) on 12 November 2012.
Silvia Federici is a long-time feminist, writer, and teacher living in Brooklyn, NY. Her most recent book is Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Common Notions/PM Press, 2012). Born in Parma, Italy, Federici has lectured and taught widely in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the U.S. She has participated in numerous international movements and social struggles, including feminist, education, anti-death penalty, as well as anti-nuclear and anti-globalization movements.
In 1972, she was co-founder of the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Wages for Housework (WfH) campaign internationally. She was a founding member of the New York Wages for Housework Committee (1973-1978), an organization that helped build WfH mobilizations and committees across the U.S. and Canada.
With other members of Wages for Housework, like Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James, and with feminist authors like Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Federici has been instrumental in developing the concept of “reproduction” as a key to class relations of exploitation and domination in local and global contexts, as well as central to forms of autonomy and the commons.
After a period of teaching and research in Nigeria in the 1980s, she co-founded 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. She is also a founding member of the Radical Philosophy Association’s Anti-Death Penalty Project.
From 1987 to 2005, Federici taught international studies, women studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY, where she is Emerita Professor of Philosophy and International Studies.
Federici’s work is rooted in feminist, autonomist, and Marxist traditions that emphasize the centrality of people’s struggle against exploitation and of autonomous forms of social cooperation as driving forces of historical and global change. Through her focus on women, land, crisis and war, enclosures and the commons, she has been vehemently international as well as historical in her perspective, insisting that attention to the international division of labor and development/underdevelopment on a world scale are essential for developing anti-capitalist politics.
Her decades of research and political organizing accompanies a long list of publications on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education, culture, international politics, and more recently the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons. Federici’s steadfast commitment to these issues resounds in her focus on autonomy in what she calls self-reproducing movements as a powerful challenge to capitalism through the construction of new social relations.
Her previous book Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (Autonomedia, 2004) has been translated into several languages. The book details the relationship between the European witch trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the rise of capitalism, highlighting the ongoing relationship between enclosure and accumulation in capitalist development.
Federici is co-author and editor of a number of other books, including The Great Caliban. History of the Rebel Body in the First Phase of Capitalism, with Leopoldina Fortunati (Milano: Franco Angeli 1984); the volume Enduring Western Civilization: The Construction of the Concept of Western Civilization and Its “Others” (Praeger 1995); A Thousand Flowers: Social Struggles Against Structural Adjustment in African Universities (Africa World Press 2000); as well as African Visions: Literary Images, Political Change, and Social Struggle in Contemporary Africa (Praeger 2000). capitalist development.