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Another Pastoral Power: Spiritual Salvation through Worldly Integralism in Colonial Latin America by Edgar Zavala Pelayo

News from Mar 19, 2016


The colonial period in Latin America (1500s-1800s) is usually addressed as a past reality that has obvious historical significance yet limited explanatory relevance. This historical period seems to be taken as merely anecdotical and eventually irrelevant to explain contemporary socio-political phenomena in Latin America. Liberalist-modernist historians and social scientists in this region of the world seem unwilling to go back to such a dramatic and presumably backward long gone past. Based on a critical review of Foucault’s pre-modern pastoral power and his ambivalent statements on pastoral power in modern societies, I offer in this paper genealogical evidence about the governmentalities forged during three centuries of colonial rule and the persistence, within them, of salvific and integralist rationales. I will highlight both the other-worldliness of such a salvation and the realist methodology by which the latter was meant to be achieved. I conclude by suggesting the relevance of further genealogical analyses and the pertinence of exploring possible continuities between those rationales and messianic political characters, or caudillos, in 20th- and 21st-century Latin America.

You may find the entire working paper here.