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Burning Women

Burning Women

"The European Witch hunts, Enclosure and the rise of Capitalism", a new version of the pamphlet from Past tense Publications.

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The European Witch hunts, enclosure and the Rise of Capitalism. Understanding the witch trials of the 16th and 17th Centuries is a vital part of understanding the rise of capitalism, the family, women's roles and our relation to our bodies. A brief overview of the economic, social and ideological reasons for, and effects of, the massacre of women that took place during the rise of capitalism.

 


During the 16th and 17th century, all across Europe, in every town and village, women were killed, en masse, as witches. In some towns there were a few killed every week, in some towns hundreds killed in one go. The killings went on for two centuries and touched everyone's lives. They spread fear, destroyed networks and resistance and did not stop until the population was sufficiently subordinated and the emerging state, capitalist social relations and church had got its claws into the lives and psyches of the people. Not only is the deep significance of the witch trials glossed over in mainstream history, it is glossed over in Marxist and anarchist history too. Where it is discussed the gender implications are not brought to the fore.
This text is a small step to redressing the balance. It has a bit of historical background of the times, then how the witch trials happened, and then some explanations for and effects of the trials: Changes in methods of social control; Independent women as a threat; Reconstructing women's sexuality; Wise women, healers, midwives and the rise of science; Older women and the rise of private property; Organised women, organised resistance.

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