The Fetishism of Soap and Hygiene and Its Implications for Racist Ideologies
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Our modern world is over stimulated by a torrent of commodity promotion and consumption. Most people continue to consume products at a remarkable rate without ever stopping to think about what it is they are actually buying into, be it literally or visually, and how what they buy can often have an effect on how they think. In this paper I attempt to understand the power of commodity culture and it's ability to shape societal understandings of social phenomena through an analysis of the commodity fetishism of soap and hygiene and the implications it has had on how people perceive racial hygiene and ·racial difference. I use an analysis of soap advertisements in the colonial era to demonstrate the ability of soap, as a fetishized commodity, to spread the racist ideologies that are found imbedded in it's sale and consumption. I also utilize a critique of current marketing techniques and promotional material used by development organizations, focusing primarily on issues of hygiene and sanitation, to describe the shared narrative of racial inferiority and the power of the white race to civilize and develop that has continued to structure society's understanding of the sources and .solutions to the question of racial difference.