Seeking the Seeker: Frameworks for Understanding Islamic Commodities

UNCC Author/Contributor (non-UNCC co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gregory Starrett, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC )
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Abstract: Contemporary Muslim criticisms of the commodification of religion are similar in some ways to the sociology of culture formulated by members of the Frankfurt School of the mid-twentieth century, particularly Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, as inspired in part by Walter Benjamin. Following Marx, these theorists reflected on the effects the mass production and distribution of commodities might have on the world of culture, particularly the fine arts. They argued that the commoditization of art destroys the ”aura” of a work, its uniqueness and authenticity as a singular creation tied to a specific place and time. The mechanically reproduced work of art loses its use value–its ability to draw the viewer out of himself in contemplating it–and becomes mere exchange value, something that can be acquired and displayed, like an item of clothing or other commodity that might mark the buyer’s interest or taste or wealth.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2007
Islam, material culture, Egypt, semiotics

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