Fantasies of Fetishism: From Decadence to the Post-human (Hardback)Amanda Fernbach
Hardback Published: 25/06/2002
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At the dawn of the new millennium, Western culture is marked by various fantasies that imagine our future selves and their forms of embodiment. These fantasies form part of a rapidly growing cultural discourse about the future of the human form, the disappearing boundary between the human and the technological and the cultural consequences of greater human-technological integration. This book is about those cultural fantasies of fetishism, the different forms they take and the various ways in which the transformative processes they depict can reaffirm accepted definitions of identity or reconfigure them in an entirely new fashion. But what exactly is fetishism? At one level fetish club subcultures spectacularize fetishism as a celebration of difference in which the transformation of the self is paramount and 'mainstream' categories, including beliefs about gender, sexuality and the body, are transgressed. However, in film, feminist and post-colonial criticism, fetishism's meaning owes much to Freud's interpretation that the fetish stands in for the mother's missing phallus and disavows her sexual difference. At the level of critical theory, fetishism is almost always regarded as being synonymous with 'the reproduction of the same' - the disavowal rather than the pursuit of otherness. This book argues that the orthodox interpretation of 'classical' fetishism is not and never has been up to the task of explaining all cultural fetishisms. It identifies several different forms of fetishism - decadent fetishism, magical fetishism, matrix fetishism and immortality fetishism - and accounts for its sometimes radical and productive edge. Ranging widely over texts and cultures, Amanda Fernbach skilfully deploys these concepts of fetishism to topics in cultural studies, such as sexual difference, queer identities, computer culture and the 'post-human' and as well as to her objects of study: cross-cultural dressers, technofetishists, cyberspace cowboys, cyborgs, geekgirls and SM/fetish cultures. This book argues that fetishism can contest postmodern malaise and provide utopian tools for a post-human existence. It urges that we embrace the new fetishism emerging from the fringes of the fetish scene and that we begin to classify fetishism in a manner that does justice to its multiplicity.
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press