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Making MagicReligion, Magic and Science in the Modern World$
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Randall G. Styers

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151077

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195151070.001.0001

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(p.219) Conclusion
Making Magic

Randall G. Styers (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A knowledge which is divorced from cultural reality is in itself a symptom of witchcraft.

—J. H. Driberg

We have come to Michael Taussig's assertion that the most productive strategy for illuminating contemporary scholarly constructions of magic and supernaturalism is through a double movement of demythologization and reenchantment, a movement that invokes rational interpretation while simultaneously destabilizing the categories of that interpretation. This strategy, Taussig argues, can serve to unmask the contrivance and mystification through which scholarly objectivity itself is constructed. This type of double movement circles back to an important theme raised in the introduction. There we considered Emily Apter's analysis of the appeal that fetishism has held for modern scholars—scholars have fetishized the concept, seeing it as a key to religion, psychology, and culture. In seeking to account for this scholarly preoccupation, Apter points to the power of the fetish to destabilize normal modes of thought and representation. The very extravagance and excess of fetishism serve to manifest the fundamental artifice of all human representation. Through this play of fixation and estrangement, meaning is simultaneously reinscribed and transgressed....

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