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Commodity fetishism, geographical imaginations and imaginative geographies

  • Political Science


a3464 1519..1526 Commodity fetishism, geographical imaginations and imaginative geographies A little over a decade ago David Harvey, in an essay on the geographical imagination, argued that `` we should deploy the Marxian concept of fetishism with its full force'' (1990, page 423). Though, ten years on, he would doubtless wish to talk about geo- graphical imaginations in the plural, the fascination with fetishism remains. Thus, in the introduction to Spaces of Hope, Harvey has recently insisted that a `` consideration of the commodity fetish'' can yield `` extraordinary insights'' (2000, page 7). I propose to agree with this statement, but in a way not entirely consistent with Harvey's trenchant brand of Marxism. In this commentary I want to give a geomaterialist answer to two related questions: First, has the motif of fetishism outlived its usefulness as a tool for commodity analysis? And second, if it has not, what kind of critical practice does `defetishisation' license in a world where, as Allan Pred (1998, page 151) would have it, `` every nook and cranny of everyday, everynight life is subject to colonization by the commodity form''? My answers, as will become clear, entail more than a vestigial attachment to the concepts of Marx's political economy. Though the signifier `Marxism' is now so polysemic as to be virtually incoherent, Iölike such seemingly disparate figures as Harvey himself and Gayatri Spivaköthink it can still usefully denote a set of explanatory and political resources that are relinquished only at a considerable cost. That said, the point of my argument will be that the critique of the commodity fetish is of contemporary relevance only to the extent that it can escape the epistemic straight- jacket in which many Marxists since Marx have arguably confined it. My conclusion will be that a Marxian analysis of commodity fetishism is today a necessary but never sufficient critical practice. More particularly, I want to claim that this practice can attend to `` the import

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