The sixth and final essay in our book club on Silvia Federici's brilliant opus.
I confess I haven't read this book yet, though your essays are inspiring me to bump it up my list. Explorations of animism and resistance are integral parts of my own work around ecological trauma and reverence, as I support others in awakening to the more than human forces who partner with us in our efforts to protect our earth. I love the examples you've pulled from the text here.
There's so much to say about the targeting of women specifically, as well. This reminds me of teachings by Joseph M. Marshall III: In one of his books, I can't remember which, he describes how the men of his tribe were the first to lose their purpose with the arrival of colonization. Whereas the women's traditional roles remained necessary, the men had been warriors and hunters - two roles they were severed from through new regulations and over-hunting. According to Marshall, this loss of purpose crushed the spirits of men, and women were left to hold the communities together. Perhaps this is one more of many reasons women were targeted, along the spiritual connections they kept alive.
I was just reading an article yesterday about the history of “hysteria”. One of the interesting things mentioned was that psychosomatic effects were more common symptoms of stress of mental illness in the past and in modern societies which are just becoming industrialized. So people who were less industrialized were far more likely to exhibit convulsions, fainting, paralysis, or involuntary movement (“hysteria”) while those in modern Western societies seem to handle the same stresses through depression and anxiety. I wonder as well whether there is a key here to the way in which women were known for psychosomatic “hysteria” much later in history than men. As a part of the population viewed as more a part of nature, did women come to an industrial mindset later in history? Or it this phenomenon simply the result of the extraordinary stresses placed on women of that time period?
“Due primarily to the struggle of women, the connection of the American Indians with the land, the local religions and nature survived beyond the persecution providing, for more than five hundred years, a source of anti-colonial and anti-capitalist resistance. This is extremely important for us, at a time when a renewed assault is being made on the resources and mode of existence of indigenous populations across the planet; for we need to rethink how the conquistadors strove to subdue those whom they colonized, and what enabled the latter to subvert this plan and, against the destruction of their social and physical universe, create a new historical reality.”
This quote reminded me of a speech given by Russell Means that was published in Mother Jones magazine in 1980. After reading it again, there is much to ponder, particularly in comparison to Federici’s work and your essays here. At first, I found my back going up when Means refers to European culture, but reading further into the speech there appears to be some congruity with your take, Rhyd. I would be curious, though, to hear how you would respond to Means’ assertion that Marxism and Anarchism are antithetical to indigenous struggle/resistance. (If you have time to read and respond....I realize you have other things to do, brother!)
Thank you so much for these essays. I’m still working my way through the book, and these have been an excellent companion to the text. Bravo!
This is slightly tangential, but also quite interesting. About the history of Penis stealing Witches.