05 November 2013

Religion, Governmentality, and Citizenship

Is religion a cultural practice, or can it be a technology used by government to control its citizen? This is the question explored by Ezequiel Gomez Caride in his paper "Governmentality and Religion in the Construction of the Argentinean Citizen" that was published in the first part of the European Education governmentality double issue. Gomez Caride is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his research interests include issues of national identity, religion, and educational policy. In this paper, he argues that "it is not possible to understand citizenship historically without exploring its religious principles ... these religious elements became a part of republican notions of citizenship and ideas of the nation ..." The abstract of the paper is reproduced below. If you would like to read the entire paper or any other content from our journal, you can find out more about subscriptions here.
Numerous studies regarding citizens' identity and nation-building issues have relegated the analysis of religion, understood as a cultural practice, and its role in the governing of the citizen. However, this article states that religious narrative is still a crucial technology of government to conduct the conduct of citizens. Through the Foucauldian notion of governmentality, I draw together the roles of religious discourses in three historical educational events from Argentinean history. In contrast to the secularization theory that ignores the power of religion in shaping the modern republican citizen, this study demonstrates the extent to which Catholic narratives are still a central technology in governing the Argentinean republican citizen.