Contributor(s)The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Education & Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science
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AbstractMy argument is that the current spate of “anti-imperial” studies of the Bible manifests a fetishism of empire. I understand fetish here in two senses, one in line with Freudian psychoanalysis, in which the fetish marks both the disavowal of castration and the affirmation that the penis is still there, albeit displaced onto another object, the other following a marxist trajectory in which the fetish becomes an element of the socioeconomic context, indicating a transfer of powers between human beings and object fetishized. however, unlike a trend—which really began with Theodor adorno and the Frankfurt school and runs through Slavoj Zizek (2002, 286-88; 2006, 108)-in studies of the fetish, which all too quickly assume an overlap between Freudian and Marxist senses, I take a different line: I argue that the two senses need to be pushed to their extremes before they blurt out the truth of the fetish of empire. In other words, I take up a mode of dialectical analysis inspired by Adorno, in which one takes each side of the dialectic, drags it as far as it will go, and then, panting and sweating, a little further. Only then, when they are beyond exhaustion, may they be connected. The argument is structured as follows: It begins with a representative survey of recent positions on empire. From there, I pursue a Freudian reading of this anti-imperial trend, before turning to a Marxist analysis.