By Jason James (auth.)
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Additional info for Preservation and National Belonging in Eastern Germany: Heritage Fetishism and Redeeming Germanness
A six-story structure that covers an entire city block, it includes an underground parking garage, commercial space on the ground level, and apartments on the upper ﬂoors. One Förderkreis (Förderkreis zur Erhaltung Eisenachs, or Association for the Preservation of Eisenach) Figure 3 The Sophiencenter, also known as “little Manhattan,” from the southeast. Source: Photograph by the author. Heimat Eisenach 43 member claimed that its “colossal” size “assaults” (erschlägt) the smaller houses and narrow streets surrounding it, creating dark, narrow passages on all sides.
In its Marxian sense, fetishization describes the way in which commodities are given a symbolic life of their own, so to speak, that obscures the social, economic, and political conditions of their production (Ellen 1988:216ff). In the case of heritage, human beings with particular cultural assumptions and investments assign signiﬁcance to buildings and cityscapes, making them into cultural landmarks, but then treat that signiﬁcance as though it was there all along, in the object itself. Their meaning is treated as self-evident, objective, intrinsic to them, and a product of the past rather than the present.
The displacement of burdened pasts by desired cultural ones points to the aspect of heritage fetishism that comes closer to the Freudian use of the term. For Freud as for Marx, fetishism involves a form of displacement and misrecognition. In Freudian theory, however, it is a displacement of ﬁxation from one thing onto another, the fetish object, in a way that obscures the ﬁrst. Indeed, the core of fetishism for Freud is that displacement is recognized but at the same time disavowed so that the fetishism can continue.