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A place for pastoral power: From the government of souls to global struggles for souls

Savic, Bojan (2023) A place for pastoral power: From the government of souls to global struggles for souls. Political Geography, 107 . Article Number 102967. ISSN 0962-6298. (doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2023.102967) (KAR id:102777)


While research on geopolitical space and faith has drawn on Michel Foucault's work on power/knowledge, subjectivity, and strategy, little use has been made of his genealogies of Christian pastoral power. Arguing that Foucault's work on the pastorate analyzes political-religious submission, care, control, and resistance without reflexively secularizing faith (by either normalizing or abnormalizing it), this article calls for its use in research on “global struggles for souls”. However, to make pastoral power relevant to contemporary Christian and non-Christian subjectivities in Europe and beyond, Foucault's confinement of the concept to ancient-medieval Western-European Christendom must be revisited. To that end, the article undertakes a close and concurrent reading of Foucault's key works on pastoral power and identifies core conditions around the concept's contemporary applicability. Moreover, in critiquing Foucault's Eurocentric mapping of the pastorate, I argue that its analytical merits cannot extend to subaltern subjects (Christian and otherwise, in Europe and beyond) unless it is rethought through postcolonial and decolonial notions of power as relations of embodied race, class, gender, and other difference reproduced through colonial legacies.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2023.102967
Uncontrolled keywords: Pastoral power, Geo-religious struggle,Foucauldian eurocentrism, Postcolonial geographies, Subaltern skepticism
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Bojan Savic
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2023 15:57 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 23:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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