May 27, 2011

Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation.

It was the women who usually initiated and led the food revolts. Six of the thiry-one food riots in the 17th century France studied by Ives-Marie Berce were made up exclusively of women. In the others, the female presence was so conspicuous that Berce calls them "women's riots." p. 80

The witch-hunt was also the first persecution in Europe that made use of a multi-media propaganda to generate a mass psychosis among the population. Alerting the public to the dangers posed by the witches, through pamphlets publicizing the most famous trials and the details of their atrocious deeds, was one of the first tasks of the print press (Mandrou 1968: 136). Artists were recruited to the task, among them the German Hans Baldung, to whom we owe the most damning portraits of witches. But it was the jurists, the magistrates, and the demonologists, oten embodied by the same person, who most contributed to the persecution. p. 168

During these revolts, it was often women who initiated and led the action. Exemplary were the revolt that occurred at Montpellier in 1645, which was started by women who were seeking to protect their children from starvation, and the revolt at Cordoba in 1652 that likewise was initiated by women. It was women, moreover, who (after the revolts were crushed, with many men imprisoned or slaughtered) remained to carry on the resistance, although in a more subterranean manner. p. 174

also, the "petroleuse"

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