Time and Commodity Culture is a set of four linked essays on the cultural systems of postmodernity. Rather than taking modernity and postmodernity as real historical epochs, however, it understands them as strategies for organizing time and social order by means of a `nostalgic' division within them. Each essay explores a particular dimension of this organization of time, especially in relation to the anxieties and the possibilities
created by the commodification of culture. The central essay, `Gift and Commodity', studies two areas in which the speed of commodification has increased markedly in recent years: That of the person, and that of information. Using a mix of anthropological, legal, economic, and historical materials, it
investigates the privatization of the commons in information by way of such things as the development of markets in human DNA, the trade in human organs, and the creation of property rights in `personality'. `What Was Postmodernism?' analyses the structured anxiety about the commodification of culture that is called `postmodern theory'. A further essay explores tourism as a figure of modernity, and a final essay on memory explores the phenomena of `recovered memory' and of Holocaust remembrance
as ways of constructing temporally ordered forms of the real.
John Frow's book bulges with good things. The book is dangerous in that it is so persuasive in its objectivity, and objectivity always seems so reasonable. It will appeal to those who like their logic unfuzzy. - Pamela Shurmer-Smith. Environment and Planning Vol 16. 1998
1: What Was Postmodernism?
2: Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia
3: Gift and Commodity
4: Toute la mémoidu monde: Repetition and Forgetting