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Reintroducing a Cult Classic on the Fetish

book cover for The Problem of the Fetish against a grey background

The Problem of the Fetish (University of Chicago Press, 2022), co-edited by Media, Culture, and Communication's Ben Kafka, compiles for the first time William Pietz’s seminal writings on the history of the fetish. 

The work by Pietz was published originally as a trilogy of articles (1985-1988) in the journal Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics. Its impact on questions engaging material culture, object agency, merchant capitalism, and spiritual power was profound.

As the editors note in their introduction, this new volume of writings includes the original trilogy, plus a fourth part that was long believed to have been lost.

“Assembling Pietz’s early programmatic texts and later, lesser-known ones, this book .... is a gift—mandatory reading for every critical thinker of the contemporary and its histories.” 

Rosalind C. Morris, Columbia University