Aims and Scope By focusing on the various modes and media of the fetishised object, this anthology shifts the debates on thingness into a new global art historical perspective. The contributors explore the attention given to those material images, in both artistic and cultural practice from the heyday of colonial expansion until today. User Account Log in Register Help. Search Close Advanced Search Help. Add to Cart. Prices are subject to change without notice.
The Function of a 'Fetish' Figure - Victoria and Albert Museum
Essentially, fetishism is the emic attribution of inherent value or powers to an object. The term "fetish" has evolved from an idiom used to describe a type of objects created in the interaction between European travelers and Africans in the early modern period to an analytical term that played a central role in the perception and study of non-Western art in general and African art in particular. William Pietz, who conducted an extensive ethno-historical study of the fetish, argues that the term originated in the coast of West Africa during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Pietz distinguishes between, on the one hand, actual African objects that may be called fetishes in Europe, together with the indigenous theories of them, and on the other hand, "fetish", an idea, and an idea of a kind of object, to which the term above applies. According to Pietz, the post-colonial concept of "fetish" emerged from the encounter between Europeans and Africans in a very specific historical context and in response to African material culture. My argument, then, is that the fetish could originate only in conjunction with the emergent articulation of the ideology of the commodity form that defined itself within and against the social values and religious ideologies of two radically different types of noncapitalist society, as they encountered each other in an ongoing cross-cultural situation.