Two Classic Works from Leopoldina Fortunati - Toledo Translation Fund
Translations of Fortunati’s first major works, essential contributions to marxist feminism, are contracted to be published by Verso Books. But we need your help!
Leopoldina Fortunati’s works present an unparalleled Marxian-feminist analysis of the realm of reproduction. Unfortunately, to date, English translations of Fortunati’s works have been scarce and inadequate to the rigor and historical specificity of her arguments. These two collections will offer Anglophone readers Fortunati’s classic early works, reflections on two decades of the Italian tradition of operaismo, propelled by the global revolts against capitalist sexual and racial divisions of labor of the post-war era. The texts fundamentally question key theoretical categories and historical assumptions of a Marxian orthodoxy, interrogating the neglect of crucial issues that, in Marxian tradition, have been considered marginal to the core contradictions of labor and capital — in particular the gendered division of labor and the relation of reproductive labor to the realm of production.
The first book in this series is the first complete translation of Fortunati’s first major work, The Arcana of Reproduction: Houseworkers, Prostitutes, Workers and Capital (L’arcano della riproduzione: casalinghe, prostitute, operai e capitale. Venezia: Marsilio Editori, 1981). The translation will include a new introduction by the author and new footnotes providing the historical detail and terminological clarification necessary for a full engagement with the text. In The Arcana, Fortunati focuses on demonstrating, with respect to the central categories of Marxism, that domestic work and related consumption both function to produce value for capital. As she developed this theoretical intervention, she was simultaneously composing, in collaboration with Silvia Federici, a work which would have a profound influence on feminist engagments with the question of so-called “primitive accumulation”: Il Grande Calibano: Storia del corpo sociale ribelle nella prima fase del capitale (Milano, Franco Angeli 1984).
The second book in this series includes Fortunati’s key contributions to Il Grande Calibano combined with subsequent essays that develop her thought, treating the great Marxian origin story in terms of its relation to the reorganization of women’s social roles, the restructuring of the family, marriage, sexuality, and the construction of childhood as a specific social identity and periodization of life. Both books fundamentally question a Marxian historicism that focused on the industrial revolution as the primal scene of capitalist accumulation and regarded waged labor as the privileged site for its theoretical and political engagement. These classics of Marxist-feminist theory cannot be circumscribed either in terms of a historicist account of capitalist development nor as a totalizing theoretical overview of a global-capitalist system. Rather, they mediate dual temporalities; presenting narratives of originary accumulation through contemporary political struggles.
Fortunati’s works are particularly pertinent to contemporary considerations of value theory and those political movements of our day which seek to articulate the ongoing realities of historical trauma. The works are both under contract with Verso and supported by the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, and the departments of Modern Culture and Media, Italian Studies, and Comparative Literature at Brown University. Given the complexity of the texts, the necessity of updating references thoroughly and composing adequate explanatory notes we have formed two teams composed of two translators each. In the time of COVID-19 with its much reduced and delayed grant funding, we are aiming to raise $12,000 to cover initial payments to these two teams.
All donations over $100 will receive a free copy of the book of your choice. Donations over $250 will get you a copy of both works, plus a $50 voucher for the Verso website (where you can purchase other books); $500 will get you two copies of each book, plus $100 on the website. If you’re able to donate $500 or more we’ll also thank you on a donors page for the project, and donations of $1,000 or more will also be acknowledged in the book.