Governmateriality – the concept

Governmateriality alludes to Foucault’s enquiry of governmentality, and his account of both processes of governing and rationalities of government. While Foucault was most interested in understanding how the making of subjects and regulations of their behavior come about, governmateriality is launched to bring attention to (a) how the constitution and recognition of complex material entities takes and makes place, (b) how these entities contribute to regulating themselves, their members, and their surroundings, and (c) how they become both means and targets of regulation. Like Foucault’s governmentality, the concept of governmateriality is a tool for detecting how different actors constitute and govern particular bodies and practices while they, simultaneously, try to control the constitution and conduct of other bodies.

Bjørn Ola Tafjord

[First published on February 14, 2020, on the website of the research group “Indigenous Religion(s): Local Grounds, Global Networks” based at UiT The Arctic University of Norway which hosts the research project “The Governmateriality of Indigenous Religion(s)”. URL:]