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On Animism, Modernity/Colonialism, and the African Order of Knowledge: Provisional Reflections


It might even be said that the fetish is the consummate form of power for Marx insofar as it mystifies and materializes in the same gesture, insofar as it crystallizes the necessity and inevitability of mystification for materialization. Indeed, if fetishism is that process whereby power as a relation is obscured through reification, through the guise of an object, then what Marx calls material life, with its thoroughly objective, tangible and concrete character, is always already fetishized.

—Wendy Brown, Politics Out of History

Because of the colonizing structure, a dichotomizing system has emerged, and with it a great number of current paradigmatic oppositions have developed: traditional versus modern; oral versus written and printed; agrarian and customary communities versus urban and industrialized civilization; subsistence economies versus highly productive economies. In Africa a great deal of attention is generally given to the evolution implied and promised by the passage from the former paradigms to the latter.

—V.Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa

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