The Black Body as Fetish Object

79 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2009

Date Written: 1997


Symposium: Citizenship and Its Discontents: Centering the Immigrant in the International Imagination.

Race is a form of pleasure. Race is racism, it can be nothing else, and there is nothing in race other than the pleasure it occasions. Indeed, race-pleasure is the defining pleasure of our time. Law's order is the extension of this sadomasochistic pleasure across time and space. “Sadistic” because race, for whites, is the pleasure of causing injury. “Masochistic” because race, for blacks in a non-revolutionary situation, is the pleasure of the injury. S/M requires two classes; one on top and the other on the bottom, and both tethered to a libidinal economy of suffering and being made to suffer. This article describes the persistence of race, and the failures of equality jurisprudence, in terms of that libidinal economy. Within this colonial relation the black is made to labor on itself to produce from its alienated subjectivity the race-pleasure that makes whiteness and blackness seem real. This article also describes a potential goodbye to all that.

Keywords: Adarand v. Pena, Black Panther Party, Brown v. Board of Education, Critical Legal Studies, Critical Race Theory, Frantz Fanon, Jurisprudence, Jacques Lacan, Plessy v. Ferguson, Postcolonial, Postmodern, Sadomasochism, Segregation

Suggested Citation

Farley, Anthony Paul, The Black Body as Fetish Object (1997). Oregon Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 3, pp. 457-535, 1997, Available at SSRN:

Anthony Paul Farley (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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