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Author: Selma James • Foreword by Margaret Prescod • Editor: Nina Lopez
Series: PM Press
For over sixty years, Selma James has been organizing from the perspective of unwaged women who, with their biological and caring work, reproduce the whole human race—along with whatever other labor they are performing. This work goes on almost unnoticed everywhere on the planet and in every culture. When this work is not economically prioritized, politically protected, or socially supported there are dire consequences for the whole of humanity, beginning with women and children.
This much-anticipated follow-up to her first anthology, Sex, Race, and Class, compiles several decades of James’s work with a focus on her more recent writings, including a groundbreaking analysis of C.L.R. James’s two masterpieces, The Black Jacobins and Beyond a Boundary, and an account of her formative partnership with him over three decades. Her experience with the Caribbean movement for independence and federation is reflected in her introduction to Ujamaa, the extraordinary work of Tanzanians to bypass capitalism, and much more.
Steeped in the tradition of Marx, James draws on half a century of organizing across sectors, struggles and national boundaries with others in the Wages for Housework Campaign and the Global Women’s Strike, an autonomous network of women, men, and other genders that agree with their perspective. There is one continuum between the care and protection of people and of the planet: both must be a priority, beginning with a care income for everyone doing this vital work.
James makes the powerful argument that the climate justice movement can draw on all the movements’ people have formed to refuse their particular exploitation, to destroy the capitalist hierarchy that is destroying the world. Our time is now.
About the Contributors:
Selma James is a women’s rights and antiracist campaigner and author. From 1958 to 1962 she worked with C.L.R. James in the movement for West Indian federation and independence. In 1972 she cofounded the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and in 2000 helped launch the Global Women’s Strike whose strategy for change is “Invest in Caring, Not Killing.” She coined the word “unwaged,” which has since entered the English language. In the 1970s she was the first spokeswoman of the English Collective of Prostitutes. She is a founding member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. She coauthored the classic The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, which launched the “domestic labour debate.
Margaret Prescod, author of Black Women Bringing It All Back Home, is coordinator of Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike and an award-winning, nationally syndicated journalist on Pacifica Radio. She is the founder of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders and cofounder of Every Mother Is a Working Mother Network. She is originally from Barbados.
Nina López is the joint coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike. Her writings and edited volumes include: Prostitute Women and AIDS: Resisting the Virus of Repression; Some Mother’s Daughter: The Hidden Movement of Prostitute Women against Violence; The Milk of Human Kindness; and Creating a Caring Economy: Nora Castañeda and the Women’s Development Bank of Venezuela.
Reviews and Accolades
“Selma James is a force of nature in the flesh and on the page. She fearlessly grapples with complex ideas but her writing remains crystal clear and compelling. Stop what you are doing and read her now!”
—Maya Oppenheim, women’s correspondent, The Independent, UK
“Selma James’s prose at once theoretical and inspirational has provided a renewed praxis to consider and work with. . . [P]utting motherhood on the political agenda rather than women in boardrooms made her politics at once meaningful and important.”
—Amrita Shodhan, feministsindia.com
“When Selma James speaks, I listen. When she writes, I read. She has been a crucial part of my reeducation for decades. She is one of the few public intellectuals that engages with issues and people all over the world yet still remains connected to the grassroots. The writings and ideas of Selma James are as relevant now as they have ever been. Her solidarity knows no borders, her compassion excludes no sufferer.”
—Benjamin Zephaniah, poet, writer, lyricist, musician, and naughty boy
“Selma James is a treasure . . . one of the key political thinkers and activists of our times.”
—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship (Penguin Books, 2008)
“Selma James is a living icon. Her groundbreaking Wages for Housework Campaign informs decades of feminist thought and activism. James’s writings are needed now more than ever.”
—Kristin Lawless, author of Formerly Known As Food (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)
“Since A Woman’s Place (1952), Selma James has been giving us unique insights into the meaning of autonomy and the political potential of care-work. This new anthology illuminates the significance of James’s work for a revolutionary climate politics. A true gift from one of the most brilliant minds of our time.”
—Stefania Barca, author of Forces of Reproduction (Cambridge U.P., 2020)
“Selma James has been living and writing about the intersections of race, class, and gender long before the concept of intersectionality was introduced. . . . [Her] book is inspiring because of her ability to write plainly, incisively, and accessibly about complex ideas and complicated political moments.”
—Paul Kivel, author of You Call this a Democracy? (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006)
“Coming as I did from the working class into academia, Selma James has helped me to see how an academic can take direction from the grassroots movement and be useful to it. Her work should be in every library, on every reading list, a must-read for all of us trying to change the world!”
—Maggie Ronayne, National University of Ireland, Galway, and trade unionist
“Selma James is the champion and philosopher of the revolutionary subject that is the housewife. Her theory and practice are one.”
—Qalandar Bux Memon, editor, Naked Punch Review
“It’s time to acknowledge James’s path-breaking analysis: from 1972 she re-interpreted the capitalist economy to show that it rests on the usually invisible unwaged caring work of women.”
—Dr. Peggy Antrobus, feminist, author
“Clarity and commitment to Haiti’s revolutionary legacy. A sister after my own heart.”
—Danny Glover, actor and activist
“Reminds us that liberation cannot be handed down from above. A feminism that truly matters.”
—Dr. Alissa Trotz, Women & Gender, and Caribbean Studies, Toronto
“[R]eflects in concentrated form the history of the new society struggling to be born. In this respect, Selma James embodies in these essays the spirit of the revolutionary tradition at its most relevant.”
—Dr. Robert A. Hill, literary executor of the estate of CLR James, University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the Marcus Garvey Papers Project
“In varied contexts and at many venues, including the UN, James’s output over six decades shines with radical clarity on the economy, humanity, and society . . . Hers is a gift of clarifying often knotty issues in words that people can grasp.”
—Seth Sandronsky, Z Magazine
“Sex, Race and Class is a must for all to read to understand and change the world from an exploitative culture based on women’s work to one where we all are valued and that includes men.”
—Margaretta D’Arcy, Irish Republican, author and playwright, anti-war campaigner
See and hear interviews, book reviews, and other news on Selma James's page HERE.