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


Fetishes are permanent disruptions within any given system. Accordingly, the political-theological resonance of fetish-objects can be discerned as a key aspect of their social functioning. Yet the fetish has also functioned as a placeholder in western discourse for the paradoxical human relationship with embodiment. The true “fetish of theology” is not those perceived “savage” fetish-objects or idols, but western theology’s own failure to engage comparatively in elucidating its sacramental-objects in relation to other material instances of the holy. By maintaining a separation between the fetish and the sacramental-object, theology has engaged in the same excesses that it has accused modernity of perpetuating in the latter’s attacks on faith. Perhaps what is needed is to admit the failure of the fetish to be an adequate substitute for our bodies, so that only in the failure of the fetishistic can we perhaps glimpse the “thing itself”, and our own bodies, as a material reality we must learn to embrace anew.

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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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