Giorgi Vachnadze, Displacing the Confessional: Resistance to Orthodox Christian Governmentality, Giorgi Vachnadze blog, 16 January 2021
The following text will provide a critical reflection on the social and political context of the Georgian Orthodox Christian Church as an extension of the state-apparatus. Looking briefly at the history, the global/local political climate and the role of the Church in Russia-Georgia relations, we will continue to discuss internal state politics and the problem of religious-nationalistic and xenophobic propaganda by bearing in mind the specific social practice of confession within the institution of the Church. In order to perform this short analysis, we will draw most prominently on the works of the French theorist Michel Foucault. The goal is to provide an institutional critique, a type of genealogy and offer possible horizons for resistance. The parresiastic practices of truth-telling, self-care and alternative lifestyles offered by the later works of Michel Foucault should prove especially conducive to suggesting a way of reversing the power-relationships inherent to confessional practices. The question in short, will consist in trying to understand what type of governmental technique (or governmentality) is presented by the discursive practice of confession within a very particular context of Georgian identity-formation and the vastly complex power-relationships that bind, construct and subjugate the Georgian identity to external institutional forces. How are Georgians made into religious Subjects and how are they subjected to themselves through the practice of confession and the internalization of pseudo-spiritual values by the Orthodox Christian Church?