Foucault and Religion: Spiritual Corporality and Political Spirituality

Foucault and Religion: Spiritual Corporality and Political Spirituality

Foucault and Religion: Spiritual Corporality and Political Spirituality

Foucault and Religion: Spiritual Corporality and Political Spirituality


Foucault and Religion is the first major study of Michel Foucault in relation and response to Religion. Jeremy Carrette offers us a challenging new look at Foucault's work and addresses a religious dimension that has previously been neglected. We see that prior to Foucault's infamous unpublished volume in the 'History of Sexuality', on the theme of Christianity, there is a complex religious sub-text which anticipates this final unseen work.Jeremy Carrette argues that Foucault offers a twofold critique of Christianity by bringing the body and sexuality into religious practice and exploring a political spirituality of the self. He shows us that Foucault's creation of a body theology through the death of God, reveals how religious beliefs reflect the sexual body, questions the notion of a mystical archaeology and exposes the political technology of confession.Anyone interested in understanding Foucault's thought in a new light will find this book a truly fascinating read.


I am not where you are lying in wait for me, but over here, laughing at you? …Do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.

Foucault (1969a) The Archaeology of Knowledge, p. 17

Foucault wrote to be free but everywhere he is in chains. the slow process of locating, defining and appropriating him has turned man into icon and complex texts into soundbites. If Foucault was previously ‘over there’ laughing at those who put his papers in order (those who had tried to define and position him), he would now be in hysterics at the limits imposed on his texts. in the light of such a situation it is perhaps time to ask a whole new set of questions about the politics of reading Foucault. How can we, for example, read his texts outside the disciplinary regimes that have so far appropriated his work? How can we let his writings find a voice, a texture and a complexity outside the packaged and predictable interpretations of previous readings? How can we release him from the chains of commodified knowledges which highlight, reify and stereotype the complex folds of a thinker? How can we take his work out of the reductive introductions, the shortsighted dismissals, the obscure categories, the normalising labels and the rash generalisations? How can we begin to make his work as complex as the life of the man? How can we extend, elaborate and elucidate what has been hidden and marginalised in his work? How can we learn to read the richness of Foucault’s texts from the outside?

By raising these questions I am not suggesting that there is ‘real’ Foucault to be discovered in some original free-floating space, but rather suggesting that it is necessary to find an interdisciplinary and historically located reading which seeks to appreciate the breadth and complexity of his work. the questions I am posing become even more significant in the light of the publication of Dits et écrits (and the English translations arising from that work) and the publication of the Collège de France lectures. There is now a possibility to appreciate the intricate developments and subtle nuances of Foucault’s writing in a new light. Foucault scholarship, it would seem, is

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