Critical Theory and the Liberating Potential of the Fetish

  • Colby Dickinson
Part of the Radical Theologies and Philosophies book series (RADT)


Through the theological resonances in Walter Benjamin’s work, we see an ambiguity that underlies conceptualizations of fetishism, wherein the theological cannot be separated from the mythological. Pursuing his elaborations upon violence, his re-reading of historiographical operations and outlining the dialectical image in relation to the fetish-object, we see how Benjamin endows the “commodification” (or reification) of the self with a surprisingly emancipatory potential. Taking up this possibility for the sacramental within the realm of the aesthetic, I also look toward Theodor Adorno for whom the artificiality of the fetish is of apiece with its positive potential and the possibility for an “inverse theology” to deploy moments of grace within the material conditions of lived reality.

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colby Dickinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theology & ReligionLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA

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