Siisiäinen, “Foucault, pastoral power, and optics”

Siisiäinen, Lauri.  2015.  Foucault, pastoral power, and optics.  Critical Research on Religion.  Early online publication.

Abstract: The article shows that in Foucault’s late 1970s and early 1980s analyses of pastoral, conductive power—most essentially in early and medieval Christianity—the issue of sight and visual perception recurs and occupies a crucial status. In Foucault’s discussion, these Christian relations of power, knowledge, and truth are attached with a surveying gaze that is both totalizing as well as individualizing, one that is mobilized by the thrust towards perfect visibility, transparency, and illumination of the subject turned into an object. The intention is also to develop Foucault’s analysis further, by demonstrating how Christian, providential government can be and actually has been detached from the totalizing modality of optics, and instead become articulated with a very different sort of sight and seeing, one that is non-totalizing and affirms its own limits. The article maintains that from this angle, Foucault’s conception of modern, economic-liberal governmentality has essential convergences with the Christian form of providential government, even though Foucault himself leaves these convergences partly inarticulate.

Eves, “Pentecostal dreaming and technologies of governmentality in a Melanesian society”

Eves, Richard (2011) “Pentecostal dreaming and technologies of governmentality in a Melanesian society,” American Ethnologist 38(4):758–773

ABSTRACT: Among the Lelet of central New Ireland (Papua New Guinea), a dramatic increase in Pentecostalist fervor has produced significant changes in dreaming. Traditionally, the Lelet have valued dreaming as a means of access to knowledge and power. Now it is seen as a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit, giving access to new and different forms of knowledge and power. Pentecostalism lays down many rules of conduct for the avoidance of sin, and dreams now play a role in policing them. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s work on governmentality, I find that Lelet dreaming acts as a form of self-scrutiny, reminding dreamers of the need to rectify their failures to follow Pentecostal precepts. Beyond this, dreams enable people to address the dilemmas that emerge when they embrace frameworks that impose radically different ways of being in the world than their previous religion did.