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Witch-Hunting, Globalization, and Feminist Solidarity in Africa Today.

In Tearing Ourselves Apart on July 9, 2009 at 10:10 am

by Silvia Federici, The Commoner

In what follows, I discuss the witch-hunts in Africa, examining their motivations and suggesting some initiatives that feminists can take to put an end to these. My argument is that these witch-hunts must be understood in the context of the deep crisis in the process of social reproduction that the liberalization and globalization of African economies have produced, as they have undermined local economies, devalued women’s social position, and generated intense conflicts between young and old, women and men, over the use of crucial economic resources starting with land. In this sense, I see the present witch-hunts on a continuum with such phenomena as the dowry murders and the return of sati in India, and the killings of hundreds of women in the Mexican towns at the border with the U.S. For, in different ways, they too are an expression of the effects of “integration” into the global economy, and men’s readiness to vent on women their economic frustrations and even sacrifice their lives to keep abreast of advancing capitalist relations.

These witch-hunts are also on a continuum with the worldwide return of “the supernatural” in political discourse and popular practice (e.g. “satanic cults” in Europe and the U.S.), a phenomenon that certainly can be attributed to the proliferation of fundamentalist religious sects but, significantly, has emerged in conjunction with the globalization of economic life.<download full PDF>

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