• Reification and Fetishism: Processes of Transformation

    Sonia Silva (see profile)
    Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Religious Studies, Sociology
    Africa, Marx, Karl, 1818-1883, Reification, Religion
    Item Type:
    fetishism, Karl Marx, Materiality
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    Reification, fetishism, alienation, mastery, and control – these are some of the key concepts of modernity that have been battered and beaten by postmoderns and nonmoderns alike, with Bruno Latour, a nonmodern, discarding them most recently. Critical of this approach, which creates a rift between moderns and nonmoderns, the author engages in dialogue with modern thinkers – particularly Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann and Stanley Pullberg – with a view to recycling and redefining the concept of reification from a nonmodern perspective. Marxian scholars associate reification with an attitude of detachment and passivity. The author seeks to convert the negative and asymmetrical Marxian reading of reification, which places subjects above objects, to a positive symmetry. Marx explained the capitalist economy through the lens of religion. Reversing the direction of symmetrical comparison, the author considers the northwestern Zambian universe of ancestors through the lens of Marxian concepts, mainly reification and fetishism. There is much to gain from recycling the old concept of reification. In a non-partisan symmetrical perspective, the redefinition of reification as fetishism yields a new, positive understanding of the place of material and immaterial things in social life and the ways in which we humans apprehend the world and implicate those things in our projects and struggles. Reification is not an impediment to action but a condition for action.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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