Faith as a fetish concept

The History and Theory of Fetishism, the expanded version of Iacono's enduring classic Teorie del feticismo and available for the first time in English, aims to provide the historical context necessary to understanding the concept of "fetishism" and offers an overview of the ideologies, prejudices, and critical senses that shaped the Western observer's view of otherness and of his own world. Iacono examines the moment when the Western observer turned his colonizing and evangelizing gaze to continents such as Africa and the Americas, while attempting to simultaneously destabilize and look at his own world critically. Skip to main content Skip to table of contents. Advertisement Hide.
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The History and Theory of Fetishism

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Faith as a concept-fetish

Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Fetishism means the religion of the fetish. Old English fetys in Chaucer. From facio are derived many words signifying idol, idolatry , or witchcraft. Later Latin has facturari , to bewitch, and factura , witchcraft. The word was probably first applied to idols and amulets made by hand and supposed to possess magic power.
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On the basis of historical linguistics, de Brosses gave fetishism a meaning distinct from idolatry, with which fetish-worship had previously been conflated. He described its definitive attribute as the worship of an object per se, not as a representation of another power and hence as a confusion of a divinity with its sign, but as a material incarnation and even as a real source of power. In so describing fetishism as a carnal faith, de Brosses emphasized the arbitrariness of fetish objects, which could include plants, animals, and grander natural phenomena like oceans, mountains, and rivers, when these are treated "as Gods. De Brosses's book not only invented a term, it initiated a critical practice whereby the identification of a seemingly "primitive" habit in this case, random substitution becomes the starting point for an identification of comparable qualities in the heart of so-called modern societies and institutions.
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Similar objects are also carved in ivory, and in some cases copper, brass, and iron are used. In rare instances, stone figures have been found. Small carved ivory or wood figures were worn by Ngbandi warriors, who carried shields made of decorated woven fibre. It is often impossible to distinguish the few Ngbandi masks from those of the Ngbaka. The Lobi of Burkina Faso carve such figures, which they call bateba.
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