Halloween Weekend | How the Witch was Born and Hunted: Progress, Capitalism, and the Commons

Lauren Hudson at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sat, Oct 27 at noon   |   90 minutes

We'll explore how the ‘witch’ was born and hunted and how great social upheaval around labor and gender helped capitalism unfold.

*SOLD OUT*

Come spend Halloween weekend at OlioHouse. Not only will we have amazing Olios taught by Lauren Hudson, and time to explore the fall foliage, we'll also have access to one of the best Halloween parties in upstate NY. Just a 5-minute walk from our space, the Wassaic Project, a 7-story renovated mill grain will be converted by a team of 10 artists into a haunted house. Venture up the creaky stairs for seven flights of frights then dance the night away with djs and live music. We'll even have a midnight showing of The Witch for those brave enough to watch it in a barn.

The Olio:

We would not have the capitalism we have today without the fear and subsequent suppression of the women who maintained the commons. Their stewardship threatened this new form of accumulation, and so they were regarded as subversive, dangerous, and threats to western Christian progress. This is how the ‘witch’ was born and hunted. This weekend retreat will focus on what the commons was (and is), how it was threatened, and how the project of commons enclosure and transition to capitalism could not have been accomplished without deliberate, gender-based violence that eradicated hundreds of thousands of people.


Rough sketch of the day


Noon - Arrive at OlioHouse for a communal lunch
1:00pm - A Socratic-style Olio exploring the modern relevance of the commons as well as its history, laying the foundation for the rest of our day. After the discussion, we'll be playing a game called "Rabbits & Houses", which Lauren promises will be a fun way to learn...
2:30pm - Free time to explore Wassaic and hangout around OlioHouse.
4:00pm - Lauren will teach "Disenchantment & Dominance: Witches, Capitalism, & the Commons"
5:30pm - Communal dinner at OlioHouse
7:00pm - Explore the 7-story Haunted Mill at the Wassaic Project
9:00pm - (Optional) Things will migrate over to The (Jack-O) Lantern for the Monster's Ball. Enjoy live musicians and DJs and calm your nerves with all manner of cocktails and spirits. If you have a costume, that is.
Late Night - Screening of "The Witch" in the Olio Barn.



Disenchantment & Dominance

Aside from the physical enclosure of common lands, the transition to capitalism in the 15th century meant great social upheaval, especially in the relationship between labor and gender. Often this shift is left out of the official history of capitalism, when in fact it was central to how the system unfolded. We would not have the capitalism we have today without the fear and subsequent suppression of the women who maintained the commons. Their stewardship threatened this new form of accumulation, and so they were regarded as subversive, dangerous, and threats to western Christian progress. This is how the ‘witch’ was born and hunted.

This weekend retreat will focus on what the commons was (and is), how it was threatened, and how the project of commons enclosure and transition to capitalism could not have been accomplished without deliberate, gender-based violence that eradicated hundreds of thousands of people.

We will discuss how ‘gender’ was a category made through shifting labor relationships, why those divisions still affect the way we see labor struggles today, and how, in the 19th century, several communal groups settled in the ‘burned over districts’ of upstate New York and Massachusetts to revive the project of ‘the commons’.

Teacher: Lauren Hudson

Lauren Hudson is currently a doctoral candidate in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the CUNY Graduate Center where she writes about anti-capitalist organizing among women in NYC.


Venue: OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.