Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Géraldine Mossière (2022). Religious Conversions and New Spiritual Economies. In: Mossière, G. (eds) New Spiritualties and the Cultures of Well-being. In Book Series: Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Social Scientific Approach, vol 6. Springer, Cham.

In this chapter, I transpose the concept of moral economies into the domain of contemporary spiritualities, building on Fassin and Rudnyckyj. My aim is to understand the production, distribution, circulation and use of existential quests and dynamics as they are embodied in the experiences, practices and operations, exerted by subjects upon themselves as paths of transcendence. Drawing on fieldwork conducted among new Muslims in France and the Canadian province of Quebec, I explore how this economy of the self draws on devices borrowed from popular psychology, thus leading to the psychologization of the religious realm (Altglas V: From Yoga to Kabbalah. Oxford University Press, 2014). I focus on the spiritual economies that contribute to the production of believing subjects, taking as a paradigmatic example the case of converts to Islam who commit themselves to the construction of their own Muslim subjectivity. Following Foucault, I study the “hermeneutics of the self” to which new Muslims commit themselves, and I examine the techniques and ethics underlying this relationship of the self to the self and to others, as well as the operations they carry out to reconfigure subjectivities. I thus introduce new dimensions to the notion of spiritual economy, and specifically to those aspects involving the self, and the organic assemblage and articulation of the subject’s components. I demonstrate how conversions to Islam are part of spiritual economies that revolve around two perspectives: the role of “emotional coaches” who support new Muslims and present themselves as virtuosos and spiritual specialists; and the techniques employed in making spirituality, including tools from popular psychology and personal development. © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Author Keywords
Conversions; Islam; Moralities; Psychology; Self; Spiritual economies

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