Pamela McClusky, The Fetish and the Imagination of Europe:
Sacred Medicines of the Kongo
Pamela McClusky's chapter, The Fetish of the Imagination of Europe: Sacred Medicines of the Kongo from Art from Africa was a very enlightening review about African Art and its connection to the country's beliefs and medical traditions. McClusky takes us into to her day in the life as a curator for African art. She explains how she runs into at least one phone call every other month about a "fetish" from Africa. A fetish includes a wide range of objects from Africa including necklaces, bowls, bracelets and even sculptures. A fetish is not necessarily the definition as most of the western world knows it as. A fetish from Africa is an object that possesses magical powers or in fact inhabits a spirit. In this, African’s truly believe these certain objects to contain this spirituality and it is very different than what more Western people traditionally believe. As the chapter continues, McClusky explains her job into detail. Not only is her job to collect these fetish objects, but to some people, to dispose of them because of the fear they might bring chaos to their home. She jokes how her “official capacity shifts from art museum curator to exorcist.” (pg. 143) With these phone call she receives, most people fear these fetish objects, not wanting their cursed spirits within their home. McClusky’s job is to collect them and study their history. One of the fetish sculpture she collects is described as a male figure with nails pounded into the form’s chest. Along with nails, the male is poked with needles. Not knowing the background meaning behind this piece, it is known to hold a negative entity. McClusky goes into detail about the history of Africa and these fetishes. These beliefs weren’t exactly African driven, but a belief that Christian European explorers interrupted because the African culture did not follow what the western world believed as true. Not only did this...
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