Religion and governmentality: Understanding governance in urban Brazil

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36 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper I argue that geographies of religion are fundamental to understanding governance and social order in contemporary urban space. More specifically, I show how Foucault's notion of governmentality characterizes regimes of power beyond the state apparatus, positing that religion and churches also produce and maintain the knowledges, truths, and social order associated with governmentality and self-regulated governance. By considering the geography of religion literature within the context of Foucualt's work, I illustrate the importance of religious and spiritual practices to contemporary urban space, and the roles they play in producing and maintaining governance and socio-political order. My purpose is not to suggest that governmentality has been misapplied as a theoretical tool for understanding the state and political power, but to show how the term actually describes power more generally, including spiritual moments in addition to political ones. Drawing from my case study in Fortaleza, Brazil, I substantiate my theoretical argument using empirical examples, showing how governmentality is produced through religion and churches and the relationship between spiritual practices and governance in everyday space. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-918
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


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