Governmateriality - the concept
Our exploration of governmateriality alludes to Foucault’s enquiry of governmentality and his account of both processes of governing and rationalities of government. While Foucault wanted to understand how the making of subjects and regulations of their behaviour come about, we launch governmateriality to bring attention to (a) how the constitution and recognition of complex material objects or entities takes and makes place, (b) how these objects or 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, our concept of governmateriality is an instrument for disclosing how different actors constitute and govern particular bodies and practices while they, simultaneously, strive to control the constitution and conduct of other bodies.
The concept is a prime part of the scholarly technologies that we employ in our effort to understand other specific technologies of objectification or entification, recognition, affordance, agency, complicity, and governance.
[The development of our concept of governmateriality was initiated by Bjørn Ola Tafjord and Monica Grini as part of the original proposal of the GOVMAT project in the spring 2019. However, the term governmateriality has been coined before, in at least two occasions, but with somewhat different connotations: in a paper by Johannes Westberg titled “‘The Floor Is Not a Toy’: On the Material Culture of Individualizing Technologies” from 2007, when he was a PhD student at Uppsala University; and in a paper by Poertner Ephraim from the University of Zurich, “Recording Lives and the ‘Governmateriality’ of Asylum Case-Making in Switzerland”, which appears in the programme for the Neuchâtel Graduate Conference of Migration and Mobility Studies, held 13 and 14 September 2018 at the University of Neuchâtel.]