Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make: European Social Theory and the Real-Life “Fetish”


Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 6:00pm


Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Race, Representation and Museums Lecture Series

J. Lorand Matory, Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Director, Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic Project, Duke University

Since the early-modern encounter between African and European merchants on the Guinea Coast, the term “fetish” has invoked African gods as a metaphor for what European social critics believe to be disorders in European thought. Yet African gods have a social logic of their own that is no less reasonable than the different, but equally socially positioned, theories of Marx and Freud. J. Lorand Matory will offer a novel perspective on the social roots of these tandem African and European understandings of collective action, illuminating the relationship of European social theory to the racism suffered by Africans and assimilated Jews alike.

Free and open to the public

Presented in collaboration with the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture and the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University.

See also: Public Lectures