The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America

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  • Edition: Anniv.
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-04-15
  • Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Pr

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In this classic book, Michael Taussig explores the social significance of the devil in the folklore of contemporary plantation workers and miners in South America. Grounding his analysis in Marxist theory, Taussig finds that the fetishization of evil, in the image of the devil, mediates the conflict between precapitalist and capitalist modes of objectifying the human condition. He links traditional narratives of the devil-pact, in which the soul is bartered for illusory or transitory power, with the way in which production in capitalist economies causes workers to become alienated from the commodities they produce. A new chapter for this anniversary edition features a discussion of Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille that extends Taussigrs"s ideas about the devil-pact metaphor.

Author Biography

Michael T. Taussig is professor of anthropology at Columbia University. He is author of ten books, including What Color Is the Sacred? and Walter Benjamin's Grave.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Thirtieth Anniversary Editionp. xi
Prefacep. xv
Fetishism: The Master Trope
Fetishism and Dialectical Deconstructionp. 3
The Devil and Commodity Fetishismp. 13
The Plantations of the Cauca Valley, Colombia
Slave Religion and the Rise of the Free Peasantryp. 41
Owners and Fencesp. 70
The Devil and the Cosmogenesis of Capitalismp. 93
Pollution, Contradiction, and Salvationp. 112
The Baptism of Money and the Secret of Capitalp. 126
The Bolivian Tin Mines
The Devil in the Minesp. 143
The Worship of Naturep. 155
The Problem of Evilp. 169
The Iconography of Nature and Conquestp. 182
The Transformation of Mining and Mining Mythologyp. 199
Peasant Rites of Productionp. 214
Mining Magic: The Mediation of Commodity Fetishismp. 223
Conclusionp. 229
The Sun Gives without Receiving: A Reinterpretation of the Devil Stonesp. 235
Bibliographyp. 267
Indexp. 289
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