Between Militant Demand and Creative Refusal: Moments of the Wages for Housework Campaign, Part I with Leopoldina Fortunati and Barbara Mahlknecht 

Thursday, 13 June

Between Militant Demand and Creative Refusal: Moments of the Wages for Housework Campaign, Part I with Leopoldina Fortunati and Barbara Mahlknecht 

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Join Leopoldina Fortunati and Barbara Mahlknecht for a workshop exploring the historical and contemporary relevance of the Wages for Housework campaign, launched in 1972 by the International Feminist Collective. This campaign, led by activists like Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Selma James and Silvia Federici, highlighted how capitalism exploits reproductive labour in the home.
We’ll delve into archival materials—folders, flyers, and pamphlets—to discuss the strategies and challenges faced by militant feminists in organising a movement for domestic labour compensation. Participants will examine how activists overcame isolation and limited resources to demand state-paid wages for housework, while also grappling with the contradictions of advocating for its refusal.
Through group discussions and readings, including excerpts from Fortunati’s The Arcane of Reproduction, we’ll investigate the significance of social reproduction and its impact on contemporary feminist movements. This workshop offers a chance to re-examine past struggles and foster an intersectional perspective on social reproduction today.
Sign up here
A second workshop of this, entitled “Part 2”, is happening on Sun, June 16, 2024, and will be hosted by the Feminist Duration Reading group. The workshops will focus on different archival materials and topics but can be attended separately-

Leopoldina Fortunati is a feminist Marxist, activist and theorist. She is the author of The Arcane of Reproduction: Housework, Prostitution, Labour and Capital, 1995 [1981]. She was active in the student movement in 1968, then in Potere Operaio and finally in Lotta Femminista (Women’s Struggle). With Mariarosa Dalla Costa, she published Brutto ciao. Direzioni di marcia delle donne negli ultimi 30 anni (Brutto ciao. Women’s marching directions over the last 30 years), 1977; with Silvia Federici Il Grande Calibano. Storia del corpo sociale ribelle nella prima fase del capitale (The Great Caliban. History of the rebellious social body in the first phase of capital), 1984, and several articles on the mechanisation of the sphere of reproduction. Leopoldina Fortunati is a Senior Professor of Sociology of Communications and Culture in the Department of Mathematical, Computer and Physical Sciences at the University of Udine in Italy, where she founded and directed the “NuMe” new media research laboratory. She is an ICA Fellow.

Barbara Mahlknecht is a researcher, curator, lecturer, and art mediator. She served as a Senior Scientist at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (2020-2022) and as a supervisor and tutor at the Piet Zwart Institute/Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam (2017-2019). Recent independent curatorial projects include Mothering Communities (with the University of Applied Arts Vienna, 2023), The Struggle is Not Over (Mestre, Museum of the 20th Century, 2023), and How to Change Everything: The Politics of the Feminist Strike, Radical Care, and Artivism (FLUCC, Vienna, 2022). Her interest in the intersections of social inequality, care labour, social reproduction, feminist militancy and (curatorial) practice in the archive and is driven by her current research on the Wages for Housework Campaign in 1970s Italy. She is a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London (AHRC Fellowship).
Image credit: Street rally in Mestre March 8-10, 1974, organised by the Triveneto Committee of Wages for Housework in Italy, Archive of Feminist Struggle, City Library of Padua.

Date & Time: 

Thursday, 13 June, 2024 - 18:30 to 21:00
Mayday Rooms
88 Fleet Street
United Kingdom

MayDay Rooms is an educational charity founded as a safe haven for historical material linked to social movements, experimental culture and the radical expression of marginalised figures and groups. It was set up to safeguard historical material and connect it with contemporary struggle.


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opening times: 

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