Animism

Michael Taussig spent years on the Colombian Pacific coast studying the way in which a new form of animism had been instilled amongst the laborers of the sugar industry, with regard to the arrival of capitalist forms of labor. In Colombia as well as in Mexico and other American countries, especially in urban centers such as Bogota and Mexico City, accumulation, alienation, and wage work are aspects of capitalistic societies that have become naturalized: we are the individuals who have been inserted into these societies (and in the difficult cities that serve as its setting); we buy, sell, and labor in workdays which are homogeneously compartmentalized between work and leisure; we do so as if such were ideal ways of occupying time and space, as if such ways had always been there, only waiting to emerge at the right time in history. In this scheme, and in the light of this new nature, a few creations of this very same capital acquire substance and reality, while other entities become inert objects: commodities begin to palpitate with the vital flux of exchange and valuation, while people start to look as mere producing bodies, identical and interchangeable. [...]