Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion

GOVMAT - The Governmateriality of Indigenous Religions

How are instances of indigenous religions and related entities assembled, and what do they do? This project researches co-constitutions of indigeneities and religions and their roles in contemporary cosmopolitics.

Bjørn Ola Tafjord

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The GOVMAT project is built on case studies with local communities (in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Norway, Peru, Russia, USA, and elsewhere), joint fieldwork at international events (venues of art, ecumenism, environmentalism, politics and scholarship), and explorations of networking (through different kinds of activism, media, education, cultural exhanges, legal processes, missionising, and more). 

With the concept of governmateriality, we try to open a new horizon for inquiries into the constitution, recognition, agency and command of contested bodies, practices, and situations. It allows us to investigate how instances of indigeneity and religion materalise as acts of governance in struggles over the definition and control of subjects, objects, and environments, and to address the ambivalent effects of these manifestations: Their ability to generate rights and privileges for bodies, practices and spaces that come across as indigenouws and religious, but also the risk of rejection or persecution since there are  those who still believe that such bodies, practices, and spaces are primitive and irrational. 

Our aim is to provide nuanced descriptions and analyses of complex processes. To achieve this, close collaboration between project partisipants from different fields is crucial.