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Violence, Entitlement, and Politics: A Theology on Transforming the Subject [1 ed.]
 0367221519, 9780367221515

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Contents
Acknowledgements
Reference works
1. The problem of gender-based violence
What was he thinking?
Foucault and theology
Foucault's changing subject
The entitled man and strongman politics
Articulating theology's political vocation
A theology of transformation
Chapter outline
Notes
References
2. Violence, entitlement, and politics
The rationalities that shape subject formation
A way of reading violence
The age of security: Biopolitics, fear, and the logic of pre-emption
The dispositif
Violence
A history of violence
The entitlement gender pattern
Violence and masculinity
The dispositif of strongman politics
The manhood-politics relation
Notes
References
3. The significance of entitlement
Entitlement
Intimate partner violence
On men who murder women
I know I did the right thing (because I have the right to do it)
Entitlement discourses and practices
Using others as objects
Proprietorial thinking
I stole what is mine
The strategic and urgent defence of entitlement
The brotherhood
What is at stake? Pre-emption and the fear of losing entitlements
Made to feel like a woman
Notes
References
4. Foucault, Confession, and Transformation
Overview
A critique of premodern churches in the Latin West
A sense of obligation
Foucault and transformation
A truth-telling life
An alternative trajectory
The concept of desubjectivation
Extending and developing the concept of desubjectivation
Notes
References
5. A theology of transformation
Overview
Rowan Williams
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
The triptych of Nicodeumus (Jn 3:1-15; 7:45-52; 19:38-42)
After God?
The lens of eternal life
The transformation of Nicodemus
Notes
References
6. Transforming violent subjects
A theology of resistance
The entitled man: On why spiritual practices are not enough
Entrenched entitlement: The need for a broader approach
Strongman politics, political rationalities, and subject formation
Neoliberal rationality: The right of death and the power over life
Theology and the work of transformation
The church and the work of transformation
Baptism: Its political implications
The significance of the limit-experience
Notes
References
7. 6 January: An epiphany of entitlement
On reflection
Insights and questions
The problem of violence
Index

Citation preview

Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies

VIOLENCE, ENTITLEMENT, AND POLITICS A THEOLOGY ON TRANSFORMING THE SUBJECT Steven G. Ogden

Violence, Entitlement, and Politics

This book is an exercise in political theology, exploring the problem of genderbased violence by focusing on violent male subjects and the issue of entitlement. It addresses gender-based violence in familial and military settings before engaging with a wider political context. The chapters draw on sources ranging from Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Étienne Balibar to Rowan Williams and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. Entitlement is theorized and interpreted as a gender pattern, predisposing subjects towards controlling behaviour and/or violent actions. Steven Ogden develops a theology of transformation, stressing immanence. He examines entitled subjects, predisposed to violence, where transformation requires a limit-experience that wrenches the subject from itself. The book then reflects on today’s pervasive strongman politics, where political rationalities foster proprietorial thinking and entitlement gender patterns, and how theology is called to develop counter-discourses and counter-practices. Steven G. Ogden is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Public and Contextual Theology at Charles Sturt University, Australia. He is interested in politics and religion, as well as issues around gender, power, and violence. Previous publications include The Church, Authority, and Foucault: Imagining the Church as an Open Space of Freedom (2017).

Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies

The Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies series brings high-quality research monograph publishing back into focus for authors, international libraries, and student, academic and research readers. This open-ended monograph series presents cutting-edge research from both established and new authors in the field. With specialist focus yet clear contextual presentation of contemporary research, books in the series take research into important new directions and open the field to new critical debate within the discipline, in areas of related study, and in key areas for contemporary society. Sustainable Development Goals and the Catholic Church Catholic Social Teaching and the UN’s Agenda 2030 Edited by Katarzyna Cichos, Jarosław A. Sobkowiak, Radosław Zenderowski, Ryszard F. Sadowski, Beata Zbarachewicz and Stanisław Dziekoński Queer Soul and Queer Theology Ethics and Redemption in Real Life Laurel Schneider and Thelathia N. Young Multilateral Theology A 21st Century Theological Methodology Timothy T. N. Lim Violence, Entitlement, and Politics A Theology on Transforming the Subject Steven G. Ogden Christological Paradigm Shifts in Prophetic Pentecostalism in South Africa Edited by Mookgo Solomon Kgatle, Marius Nel & Collium Banda Developing Animal Theology An Engagement with Leonardo Boff Clair Linzey For more information about this series, please visit: https://www.routledge.com/ religion/series/RCRITREL

Violence, Entitlement, and Politics A Theology on Transforming the Subject Steven G. Ogden

First published 2022 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2022 Steven G. Ogden The right of Steven G. Ogden to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Ogden, Steven G., 1955- author. Title: Violence, entitlement, and politics : a theology on transforming the subject / Steven Ogden. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2022. | Series: Routledge new critical thinking in religion, theology and biblical studies | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2021015062 (print) | LCCN 2021015063 (ebook) | ISBN 9780367221515 (hbk) | ISBN 9781032076638 (pbk) | ISBN 9780429273520 (ebk) Subjects: LCSH: Violence‐‐Religious aspects‐‐Christianity. | Political theology. | Women‐‐Violence against. | Men‐‐Psychology. | Entitlement attitudes. Classification: LCC BT736.15 .O33 2022 (print) | LCC BT736.15 (ebook) | DDC 261.8/3‐‐dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021015062 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021015063 ISBN: 978-0-367-22151-5 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-032-07663-8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-27352-0 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/9780429273520 Typeset in Sabon by MPS Limited, Dehradun

Contents

Acknowledgements Reference works

vi vii

1

The problem of gender-based violence

1

2

Violence, entitlement, and politics

22

3

The significance of entitlement

46

4

Foucault, confession, and transformation

70

5

A theology of transformation

92

6

Transforming violent subjects

110

7

6 January: An epiphany of entitlement

131

Index

136

Acknowledgements

With this project, I am grateful for the feedback and support of many people. In 2017, I participated in a three-day training course on family violence with DV Connect in Brisbane. I was inspired by a group of counsellors, psychologists, and social workers, many of whom work fulltime in the field. They underlined the problem and the prevalence of entitlement. I have had conversations with colleagues in The Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy and The Foucault Circle. In 2018, I presented a paper on one-punch attacks at the meeting of The Foucault Circle in Cleveland, Ohio, the ensuing discussion was very helpful. Since then, I have received important feedback from Lynne Huffer, Wendyl Luna, Dianna Taylor, and Miguel Vatter. Thanks to Routledge, I have also received two very helpful anonymous reviews. I am grateful for the financial assistance I received from The Centre for Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University. The Centre’s Director Stephen Pickard and Communications Officer Jonathan Cole have been supportive of my work, from the start. I have had many conversations with Clare O’Farrell, Duncan Reid, Phillip Tolliday, and the indefatigable Lee Parker. Their time, interest, advice, and wisdom have been priceless. Behind the scenes, Anne’s goodwill, wisdom, and generosity of spirit have made this project possible.

Reference works

CRFD Collins Robert French Dictionary NRSV New Revised Standard Version SOED Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

1

The problem of gender-based violence

What was he thinking? In the front bar of a hotel, a man begins jostling his friends. Inevitably, the scuffling escalates into a brawl as they stumble out of the hotel onto the street. Without warning, the man takes a swipe at a teenager passing by. With full force, he hits the unprotected jaw of the young man, who collapses immediately. As the teenager strikes the pavement, the assailant runs away leaving the teenager to die in the gutter. In the meantime, bystanders try to save the young man’s life, but it is too late. On that day, images of his body flood the internet. In days to come, hundreds of strangers bring floral tributes, placing them in the gutter where the body once lay. I am interested in the problem of violence, specifically gender-based violence, and the possibility of transforming violent subjects. This streetside incident then raises many issues. This type of incident is commonly referred to as a one-punch attack. It is “a type of violence reflective of a much broader sociocultural milieu” (Asher, Halsey, and Lee 2016: 191). Nevertheless, my focus is on the perpetrator. Why did he do it? What was he thinking? Was he thinking at all? Moreover, the incident is a reminder of the prevalence of male violence, which is associated with a sense of entitlement, where the perpetrator “declares his own state of exception” (Mann 2014: 212). Of course, there are legitimate entitlements (legal, political). In everyday life, moreover, there is a reasonable level of entitlement.1 However, there is also an excessive level of entitlement, which predisposes some men towards controlling behaviour and violent actions. Certainly, the problem of male violence is bigger than a street-side incident, but it is nonetheless, symptomatic of a type of thinking or pre-thinking, which is a factor in the production of violence. So, how do we transform violent subjects? Broadly, this question can be tackled at two levels of analysis, which are the personal (micro) and the cultural (macro). At the personal level of analysis, there is something tangible here that hones critical analysis. In other words, understanding violent subjects helps to identify the formative factors as “every form of individuality is a social determination” (Butler 2010: 166). At the cultural level of analysis, however, there are factors that influence the DOI: 10.4324/9780429273520-1

2 The problem of gender-based violence formation of violent subjects. In particular, there are political rationalities that influence subject formation. By rationality, I mean learned patterns of thinking, which inscribe themselves in different ways in individuals and communities. For example, there is the entitlement thinking and behaviour of populist leaders. But how do these prevailing rationalities work? And, if we explore these rationalities, would this help in reducing or preventing violence? So, here is an overview of my principal themes. I develop a theology of transformation building on Michel Foucault’s concept of desubjectivation. The concept of desubjectivation entails undoing and re-forming the subject, which is generated by a limit-experience. In anecdotal terms, a limit-experience is a form of confrontation. It is disruptive and transformative. In Foucauldian terms, a limit-experience entails a wrenching (arracher) of the subject.2 A limit-experience then is a disruptive experience that changes us.3 It is not any kind of experience, but a particular kind. In an interview, for instance, Foucault argues that we cannot manage experience. Instead, experience manages us “wrenching the subject from itself, of seeing to it that the subject is no longer itself, or that it is brought to its annihilation or its dissolution. This is a project of desubjectivation” (Foucault 2000a: 241). This is not a linear process, as the formative factors in subject formation are enmeshed in complex power relations. Accordingly, I develop a theology of transformation with the aim of changing violent male subjects, where entrenched entitlement is characteristic of gender-based violence. I interpret entitlement as a gender pattern, predisposing subjects towards controlling behaviour and/or violent actions. In due course, I theorize entitlement.4 Suffice to say, entitlement is premised on, and exacerbates, the objectification of others. I then examine entitled subjects predisposed to violence, where transformation requires a limitexperience wrenching the subject from itself, subsequently relinquishing entitlement. In this, I use and extend Foucault’s concept of desubjectivation.5 Foucault also links transformation with spiritual practices. However, the use of spiritual practices in relation to changing violent subjects, generally initiates only partial short-term change. Nonetheless, probing violent subjects can identify formative cultural factors as subjects are formed in cultural contexts. So, in the end, a critique of strongman politics becomes the focus here for instituting cultural change. This is because cultural transformation changes the political rationalities and gender patterns that shape subject formation. To this end, I create a conceptual comparison between the tropes of entitled man and strongman politics in order to explore the theme of entitlement at the personal and cultural levels of analysis. In the process, I take a popular term like the strongman and theorize it as the dispositif (apparatus) of strongman politics. The aim is to provide new theorizing on concepts like entitlement, the strongman, and transformation, as it is important to develop “an adequate conceptual repertoire, and to advocate for the future” (Alcoff 2015: 37).

The problem of gender-based violence 3 In all this, my central theological premise is the inherent potential for transformation, based on the reign of God, stressing immanence and the immediate future. The key is the expectation of the new, living life in-depth, open to an experience of divine desubjectivation. I use the concept of eternal life from the Gospel of John, instead of the reign of God. This is partly because of John’s theology of the new, but also, it is because the English word reign has a strongman/monarchical nuance. Politically, for example, the strongman claims to be the source of transcendence. Psychologically, “the fantasy of its return persists” (Butler 1997b: 78). Furthermore, I develop an immanent account of transformation. But the term immanent cannot be used without reference to the protracted debate about immanence and transcendence. In effect, this binary lends itself to the continual elevation of the transcendent over and above the immanent (Dubilet 2018: 4–6). Nonetheless, I am not attempting to resolve this debate. Instead, I am concentrating on the promise of the new, here and now. In Rowan Williams’s words “what we are are our limits, that we are here not there, now not then, took this decision, not that, to bring us here and now” (Williams 2007d: 186). So, I am focused on the immanent, which “precedes and exceeds the division of life into self and other” (Dubilet 2018: 15). Overall, I am interested in a “theological conversation about the relationship between Christianity and politics” (Bretherton 2010: 16). I work on the premise that theology and politics are not “two separate spheres” (Pui-Lan 2012: 615). I presume every “discussion about God is also a discussion about power, about human relations, about sexuality, about our being in the world” (Pui-Lan 2012: 616). Ultimately, I articulate an important aspect of the vocation of theology, which has implications for the church. In brief, theology can act as a limit-experience for politics, producing counter-discourses and encouraging counter-practices. This is theology as resistance, that is, in opposition to strongman politics. Subsequently, this book is an exercise in political theology, taking its bearings from lived experience.6 In terms of method, I start with the problem of gender-based violence, in familial and military settings. The choice of starting place informs my method. Theory is essential, but an exercise in political theology is about lived experience. It is not just “an exercise in pure theory” (Phillips 2012: 157). More broadly, political theology is an umbrella term, which “generally refers to the interpenetration of religion and politics” (Newman 2019: 4). So, this book is an exercise in political theology, where politics “is the context of Christian theology” (Moltmann 1999b: 50). Indeed, “political theology is not a fringe interest of just one variety of theologian” (Phillips 2012: 3). In conclusion, the aim of this book is to address the problem of the transformation of violent subjects. In the short term, practical steps can be taken to transform violent subjects, but empirically, success is limited. In the long term, we need to take preventative measures. Specifically, we need

4 The problem of gender-based violence to consider formative rationalities that foster violent subjects (e.g., “what was he thinking?”). On this note, the work of Michel Foucault is invaluable. Of course, Foucault did not address violence systematically. Nevertheless, he identified the role that rationalities play in subject formation. In fact, Foucault’s description of his own work is helpful in this regard: My own work is not a history of institutions or a history of ideas, but the history of rationality as it works in institutions and in the behavior of people. All human behavior is scheduled and programmed through rationality. There is a logic in institutions and in behavior and in political relations. In even the most violent ones there is a rationality. What is most dangerous in violence is its rationality. (Foucault 1996b: 299) I use diverse sources, but Foucault is the primary source for this book. As such, it is important to examine his work in relation to theology. In the process, significant issues emerge concerning subjectivity, limits, transgression, and threshold, which I address later. Before proceeding, I need to point out three things. First, this concerns the place of gender in his work. I am interested in gender-based violence, but Foucault was almost genderexclusive. His language was male-oriented, and directed primarily to male concerns. In the spirit of Luce Irigaray, it is hard not to read subjectivity as man, when the use of man is the default position (Irigaray 1985: 21, 25), and so, the feminine is “an abstract nonexistent reality” (Irigaray 2007: 12). Nonetheless, Foucault’s work on the subject, subjection, and desubjectivation has been used productively in feminist philosophy (e.g., Judith Butler) and theology (e.g., Ellen T Armour). Second, with the concepts of transformation, the dispositif, and desubjectivation, I use Foucauldian insights with other sources to develop my own versions of these concepts. Third, in terms of the periodization of his work, it has been divided broadly into the archaeological, genealogical, and ethical phases. In this chapter then, I expand on the book’s major themes, beginning with an examination of Foucault’s relationship to theology.

Foucault and theology The relation between Foucault’s work and theology is complex. Certainly, Foucault is critical of the church’s structures (cf. pastoral power) and its practices (cf. confession). In both cases, he has a larger purpose in mind, that is, he is trying to understand the formation of the modern subject and modern governmentality. Be that is it may, there are important links between Foucault and theology (cf. transformation, spirituality). Accordingly, I am using the work of James Bernauer as a point of reference. Before proceeding, it would be helpful to put Bernauer’s work, and the work of

The problem of gender-based violence 5 others, in a comparative framework. John McSweeney (2005) provides a useful framework for considering Foucault and theology. The schema consists of three patterns: theological appropriations, Foucault and postmodern theology, and the work of James Bernauer and Jeremy Carrette. First, with theological appropriations, McSweeney identifies an inherent problem because abstracting “aspects of his work from his larger project risks distorting the wider strategic intentions of his analyses” (McSweeney 2005: 119). So, I develop the concept of the dispositif (apparatus), for example, in a way that is consistent with the intention of Foucault’s original conceptualization (chapter 2). Likewise, I use his project of desubjectivation to develop my theology of transformation (chapter 4). Nevertheless, in the end, the concepts of the dispositif and desubjectivation used in this book are my iterations, and not Foucault’s. Foucault never developed these concepts fully. Incidentally, he considered his own concepts as part of a toolbox, which could be used by others as they see fit.7 Second, with Foucault and postmodern theology, this is complex. In practice, a wider debate tends to vacillate between, on the one hand, radical post-metaphysical theology taking up and exploring postmodern sensibilities and, on the other hand, conservative reconfigurations of metaphysics attempting to account for postmodern sensibilities without sacrificing theological orthodoxy (McSweeney 2005: 120). In this book, I do not follow these trajectories. Certainly, I have a sympathy for postmodern approaches. But my work concentrates on violence, entitlement, and the construction of a theological response, based on a reconceptualized understanding of transformation. Third, with Bernauer and Carrette, they both see Foucault’s work “as an original and substantial ethical project” (McSweeney 2005: 124). With Foucault, however, there is a debate about whether or not his work constitutes a form of negative theology. Broadly, negative theology covers a range of approaches that accepts the limits of the capacity for language to encompass the meaning of the divine. Negative theology then represents an intellectually cautious approach about attributing human terms to the divine. The term negative theology itself, however, is contested. Nonetheless, Bernauer’s main concern is to underline Foucault’s wariness about ascribing divine traits to human beings. Moreover, Bernauer emphasizes three dimensions of Foucault’s work: the modern divinisation of humanity, Foucault’s anti-anthropology, and the possibility of transforming subjectivities. So, it is worthwhile having a brief look at these dimensions. Bernauer’s article “The prisons of man” (Bernauer 1987a) has had a formative role in the evolution of his own work on Foucault. Specifically, Bernauer sets out his philosophical agenda, foreshadowing a growing interest in the nexus between Foucault and theological traditions. Moreover, Foucault’s work “is related to a religious model of both thought and practice, and it is my hope that a clarification of this perspective will invite interest in his achievement from thinkers who are working within the

6 The problem of gender-based violence context of explicit religious and theological traditions” (Bernauer 1987a: 366). For Bernauer, the key to this is found in the title of his own article: I have used the title ‘The Prisons of Man’ in order to identify the central experience which worried Foucault’s thought: the incarceration of human beings within a specifically modern system of thought and practice which has become so intimately a part of them that is no longer experienced as a series of confinements, but is embraced as the very substance of being human. The prison from which Foucault seeks escape is nothing other than the modern identity of man himself. (Bernauer 1987a: 367) Foucault’s so-called negative theology is about the divinization of man, where the divinization of man constitutes a form of captivity. In this, Foucault advocated “recognition of the need for dialogue with the human otherness subversive of modern self-definition” (Bernauer 1987a: 380). In Foucauldian terms, then, violent subjects represent the outworking of a form of captivity (Foucault 2002: 422). Bernauer emphasizes that the concept of man, emerging from the history of Western subjectivity, is a form of captivity in its own right, as “the death of God was a divinization of man” actualized not in the supernatural realm, but in history (Bernauer 2004a: 88). Of course, the obvious question here concerns finding a release from captivity, so, what does Foucault have to offer here? In Foucault’s later work, the key to this is an ethical way of life, as the embodiment of spirituality (Bernauer 1987b: 70). Broadly, then, Foucault’s work reveals a growing commitment to philosophy as a way of life, and philosophical inquiry itself becomes ethical “when it is concerned with the problematizations which pose themselves to a culture as a result of the interplay of its practices: its types of knowledge, its political strategies, and its styles of personal life” (Bernauer 1987b: 74). In terms of contemporary knowledge then, political strategies, and styles of personal life, Christianity has a useful role. In fact, “Foucault’s reading of the Christian experience was selective, but it was decisive in expanding his horizon beyond modernity and especially beyond power-knowledge relations to an inclusion of subjectivity” (Bernauer 1987b: 50). For Bernauer, it is a matter of clarifying what is meant by ethics. Bernauer argues that Foucault’s ethics is “neither a general statement of a code for thinking nor even primarily an exemplary model of inquiry. Foucault’s writings constitute a practice that educates their readers into an ethical responsibility for intellectual inquiry” (Bernauer 1990: 17). So, let me focus on two themes in Bernauer’s book, which encompass Foucault’s “deanthropological thinking” (Bernauer 1990: 86), and his form of critique. First, in analyzing Foucault’s early or archaeological phase, Bernauer continues his investigation into Foucault’s anti-anthropological stance, because anthropology in the modern period “constructed a figure who finds

The problem of gender-based violence 7 experience only a mirror of his finitude” (Bernauer 1990, 84). Bernauer argues that Foucault is concerned about the conditions of human existence, that is, Foucault considers thought, and the practice of thought, as a means of breaching the conditions of existence, and escaping its confinements. Second, in Foucault, critique entails transgressing limits. The focus for Foucault is not theory per se then, but theory as a kind of performance, like “a theatrical performance” (Bernauer 1990: 93). In Foucault’s words, the point “is to transform the critique conducted in the form of necessary limitation into a practical critique that takes the form of a possible transgression” (Foucault 2002: 328). So, this is an ethics for the practice of freedom. Moreover, the notions of critique and transgression are taken up later in my theology of transformation. In summary, Bernauer has signalled the importance of critique in Foucault. This is a practical critique, focused on history, the way we are formed as subjects, and the possibility of being re-formed. In fact, critique is focused on discerning and transgressing limits. This helps explain my choice of Foucault as an interlocuter, that is, I argue that violent subjects themselves “need to escape our inherited relation to the self”. Therefore, Foucault’s work on subjection and de-subjectivation represents an important stage in the development of my project. Furthermore, the relation between Foucault and theology is complex. Jeremy Carrette (2013) shows the problem works in two ways. On the one hand, it is difficult to attribute to Foucault’s work theological appellations, as in own his words, “there are quite a few negative theologies; let’s say that I am a negative theorist” (Foucault 2014a: 76). In other words, there is a distance between Foucault as an astute critic of Christianity, and Christianity itself. On the other hand, it is difficult to remove all theological traces from his work. For example, Foucault uses terms like transformation, but the meaning of words like this cannot be neatly excised from their Christian origins. In the West, such words have been inscribed by religious thinking and practice. In places, then, Foucault acknowledges his indebtedness to the Christian tradition. Moreover, “it is profoundly difficult to find languages of inspiration or formation that do not at some point echo older discourses regarding this concept” (Carrette 2013: 53). This helps to explain why Carrette identifies a paradox in Foucault, on the one hand, wanting to make a rupture with a Christian understanding, and yet, on the other hand, remaining partly bound to the Christian discourse of transformation. For Carrette, “it is impossible to separate theology and philosophy” (Carrette 2013: 57). Carrette recognises the importance of the relationship between Foucault and theology, but he is more cautious than Bernauer about categorizing that relationship. Carrette’s aim is to examine Foucault’s work in order to uncover “the religious sub-text” of his writing (prior to 1976) showing how his work subsequently changes. On that note, Carrette considers that his contribution is “to take these religious fragments seriously and entertain a ‘religious question’ hidden in Foucault’s writing” (Carrette 2000: 8). Carrette’s

8 The problem of gender-based violence concern then is not so much with Foucault’s religious insights, but rather, how Foucault problematizes religion. For Carrette, the term religion itself is problematic. Carrette, nonetheless, reads Foucault, “not through the tradition of philosophy or Christian belief but as someone taking the fragments of his work on religion seriously” (Carrette 2000: xii). Why then is 1976 important? It seems that “with Foucault’s historical study of sexuality from 1976 that the contours of his ‘religious question’ are significantly altered” (Carrette 2000: 20). Nevertheless, “Foucault’s fragmented work offers a kind of diagnosis of how a religious ‘subject’ is constituted” (Carrette 2000: 39). Lastly, speech is decisive for Foucault. For Mark Jordan, then, Foucault’s texts can be regarded as recitals (Jordan 2015: 63). In that vein, Christianity knew the performative power of speech, for it was “an insistent example of speech with power over bodies” (Jordan 2015: 8). Further, Jordan is interested in Foucault’s concept of subjectivity, and its relation to Christianity, where Christianity is “both the term of contrast and the point of transformation” (Jordan 2015: 180). This pertains to structures as well as persons, in fact, “To dismantle the system is to dismantle its subjects” (Jordan 2015: 56). So, violent subjects need dismantling, which underlines the importance of working at both levels of analysis, the personal and the cultural. Clearly, the theme of the subject is critical to the debate around Foucault. Consequently, it is important to look at the significance of the subject in his work.

Foucault’s changing subject I am interested in transforming violent subjects. So, how does Foucault understand the subject? Over time, the significance of the subject becomes increasingly important, and more explicit, in his work. Nevertheless, older concerns about power-relations, sovereignty, and discipline are still present, implicit sometimes, but nevertheless, present. In schematic terms, this represents a development in his work from processes of subjection to practices of self-transformation. In the process, he becomes more concerned about how we are formed, in order to understand how we can be unformed and re-formed, surpassing imposed limits. Accordingly, I am pursing the principle here that by changing the person, we can change violent conduct. In the end, however, because it is hard to change violent subjects, then it is important to address the issue of the prevailing political rationalities that shape subject formation. In other words, changes at the personal level need to be made in tandem with cultural change. This process will be enhanced by an appreciation of Foucault’s subject. Generally, Foucault was concerned about the issue of problematization, for instance, “I set out from a problem expressed in the terms current today and I try to work out its genealogy. Genealogy means that I begin my analysis from a question posed in the present” (Foucault 1990c: 262). In his later work, he explores the genealogy of the modern subject. In fact, he

The problem of gender-based violence 9 admits that previously he had concentrated “too much on the techniques of domination” (Foucault 2016: 26). But now his focus has shifted to the problematisation of the subject. In Foucault, then, there is a multiplicity of subjectivities, as “there is no sovereign, founding subject, a universal form of subject to be found everywhere” (Foucault 1990a: 50–51). In this vein, subjection (mode d’assujettissement) concerns “the way in which the individual establishes his relation to the rule and recognizes himself as obliged to put it into practice” (Foucault 1990e: 27). Subsequently, subjection entails the denial of both a multiplicity of subjectivities and the possibility of remaking subjects. Furthermore, the body is paramount for interpreting the meaning of subjectivity in Foucault, and the body cannot be understood outside the mesh of power-relations. Like a nodal point, the body is enmeshed in a web of power-relations, as “the body itself is invested by power-relations” (Foucault 1995: 24). In terms of power-relations, agency is found in resistance, and resistance is positively construed in terms of freedom. I will develop this idea of freedom as resistance later as I develop theology’s vocation in the face of strongman politics. The issue of fostering counter-conduct is critical in this regard. Specifically, theology has a role in developing counter-discourses and counter-practices. In the later (or ethical) phase of his work then, Foucault articulates a form of agency expressed as self-transformation, where the individual takes responsibility for her own conduct. Certainly, Foucault’s understanding of the subject evolves. Overall, this evolution can be described as a shift from an emphasis on the individual under subjection (cf. reactive) to an emphasis on the individual as a reflexive subject, engaging in practices of selftransformation (cf. proactive). In other words, his conceptualization evolves from emphasizing subject formation as subjection to selftransformation. At this juncture, however, it is important to return to the problem of violence and violent subjects.

The entitled man and strongman politics From war to one-punch attacks, violence is inescapable, but not all violence is physical. There are many dimensions to violence; which can be viewed from various perspectives. The debate on violence has a long pedigree, including the likes of Benjamin, Arendt, Derrida, and Butler. There is little consensus. In response, Étienne Balibar pleads, “we should surely be able to say something other than it is unbearable and we are against it” (Balibar 2016: 1–2). So, why Foucault? Foucault’s work can be used as groundwork for developing an approach to the complexities of violence. He does not address violence explicitly, but his concepts, like subjection, rationalities, desubjectivation, and limits, are invaluable for exploring violence and entitlement. So, then, I analyze violent subjects from two perspectives, the personal (micro-level) perspective and the cultural (macro-level) perspective. The personal level is tangible and accessible, but change at this level is

10 The problem of gender-based violence generally rare and protracted. The cultural level is more abstract, but in the long term, this is where significant change can be initiated. Moreover, I am interested in gender-based violence. I use aspects of familial and military violence as examples. In the process, I adapt Foucault’s concept of the dispositif (cf. apparatus) as a way of reading violence in situ. That is, the dispositif of strongman politics. So, I use the concept of dispositif to investigate a complex problem. In simple terms, the dispositif acts like a frame, circumscribing a mesh of elements in a certain space, at a certain time. It represents a strategic focusing: The apparatus is thus always inscribed in a play of power, but it is also always linked to certain coordinates of knowledge which issue from it but, to an equal degree, condition it. This is what the apparatus consists in: strategies of relations of forces supporting, and supported by, types of knowledge” (Foucault 1980b: 196). Further, my focus is on gender-based violence. I use the concept of gender to define how relations are configured, describing the configurations as gender patterns. Certainly, familial and military violence include other factors (e.g., racial, economic, and psychological), but they are entangled in the dispositif of strongman politics. In broad terms, I am interested in “the manhood-politics relation” (Brown 1989: 6). To progress this, however, I make a conceptual comparison between the entitled man and strongman politics. These headings, however, do not represent two ends of a spectrum. Instead, like a Venn diagram, the entitled man inhabits the world of strongman politics. The term the entitled man is a trope standing for the gender pattern of entitlement, predisposing some men to controlling behaviour and/or violent actions. Of course, this entitlement is an excessive sense of entitlement. By excessive, I am referring to manifestations like coercive control and violence, which are characterized by the objectification of women (and children). Likewise, I use strongman politics as a trope, standing for a dispositif that generates political rationalities and practices, informing gender patterns and shaping subject formation, where a dispositif is “a thoroughly heterogenous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions… The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements” (Foucault 1980b: 194). I also use the dispositif of strongman politics in conjunction with Foucault’s term the age of security in order to draw out the significance of gender patterns. Arguably, the age of security is a more expansive notion than strongman politics, but the age of security has been populated by strong men, and a resurgence of populism. If the age of security is premised on fear, pre-empting fear, and risk management, then we need a strongman

The problem of gender-based violence 11 to govern us. From another perspective, the dispositif of strongman politics represents an aspect of the contemporary return to sovereignty (cf. we need a king). Furthermore, in the dispositif of strongman politics, there is a political rationality that cultivates the normalization of violence. Or at least, the normalization of living under the threat of violence. So, we live in the age of strongman politics. For convenience, I use the term the strongman as shorthand for the dispositif of strongman politics. And I use individual strongmen as exemplars of the dispositif to garner insights into strongman politics. In Foucault, the king’s head is a trope for understanding sovereignty, where sovereignty represents a particular locus of authority (Foucault 2003f: 140). In Foucault’s thought, the age of sovereignty was followed by the age of discipline and the age of governmentality. Foucault recognized, however, that this did not mean sovereignty and discipline receded, instead they were reconfigured, as we still “need to cut off the King’s head” (Foucault 1980a: 121). This aspiration for sovereigns is manifest here at both personal and cultural levels of analysis. In other words, in an age of security, people place their hopes (and fears) in the hands of the strongmen. So, where does theology come into this?

Articulating theology’s political vocation Culture is a contested term. Like the term public, culture is part metaphor (Long 2008: 8) and part construction (Kaufman 1995: 115–119). In broad terms then, this is how I address culture. First, I approach the problem of violent subjects from two levels of analysis, the personal (micro) level and the cultural (macro) level. Like concentric circles, however, the micro sits within the macro. In other words, these are not separate compartments. Second, gender-based violence sits within culture (Hoeft 2009: 91). Third, a long-term approach to violence requires cultural transformation that changes subject formation, so that there are fewer individuals with a predisposition to controlling behaviour and/or violent actions. Of course, there are many possible approaches to cultural analysis (e.g., anthropological). So, this is primarily a theological approach to culture, incorporating insights from other fields. Fourth, my focus is on violence against women, mainly familial but also military. There are other factors (e.g., racism). There are parallels too, for example, between the objectification of women in family violence and the objectification of people of colour in slavery, especially women (Copeland 2010: 29ff). Fifth, theology is part of culture. I approach the problem of violence from the point of view of an academic theology that engages with other disciplines, empirical studies, and a concern for change. In terms of the dynamics of culture: Cultural changes occur by the inner dynamics of culture itself. The Church participates in them, sometimes in a leading role, but then it is a

12 The problem of gender-based violence cultural force besides others and not the representative of the new reality in history. In its prophetic role the Church is the guardian who reveals dynamic structures in society and undercuts their demonic power by revealing them, even within the Church itself. In so doing the Church listens to prophetic voices outside itself. (Tillich 1964: 50) By demonic, Tillich is not referring to premodern mythological figures. For him, the demonic is a broad term, which includes attributing ultimate concern to things that are not ultimate, as “the claim of something finite to infinity or to divine greatness is the characteristic of the demonic” (Tillich 1978: 103). As an example, attributing ultimate concern to property or a possession could be considered demonic (Tillich 1965: 25). In intimate partner violence, for example, treating a partner as an object could be regarded as an expression of the (Tillichian) demonic. It is important to focus on theology’s role in cultural transformation. As a starting point, I am using the work of Graham Ward,8 where theological discourse relates to “the productive transformation of culture” (Ward 2005: 172). More broadly, Ward wants to examine “the relationship between the critical interpretation, production and the transformation of cultures” (Ward 2005: 61). For Ward, culture is a complex concept. But culture needs to be interpreted to bring change, that is, cultural change “proceeds via cultural hermeneutics” (Ward 2005: 63). As part of a theologian’s vocation, then, theology needs to engage with other fields. Moreover, theology acknowledges that we are part of culture, where cultural engagement entails “the risk of being disrupted” (Ward 2005: 54). In general, I use the concept of theology to encompass academic and lay theology. My focus is on a theological posture, that is, it is about how we position ourselves in relation to politics in the public square, as well as what we do. So, what can we say about the role of theology? Exacerbated by its confluence with neoliberalism, strongman politics fosters a culture of fear and compliance, so that others are sacrificed for the sake of the human species. In the process, human worth is instrumentalized and monetized (e.g., women objectified). In contrast, I develop a theology of transformation, which is premised on the promise of the new, fostering personal agency and accountability, as well as mutual regard and respect. In his theology, there are no expendable others. This theology then has a role in creating counter-discourses and counter-practices. Moreover, discourse and practice cannot be clinically separated. To begin, a discourse is a network of statements producing knowledge, where a statement is more than a speech act. A statement is an enunciation that enables speech acts to be formed (Foucault 1972: 88–91). A statement is “always an event” (Foucault 1972: 28). By inference, there is a performative element in the production of theological discourses. In theology then, discourse and practice work in tandem. This means that in the construction of our opposition to strongman

The problem of gender-based violence 13 politics, we enact a form of resistance to violence. In a similar vein, the church’s counter-practices are theological statements, embodying and expressing theological insights. Furthermore, in terms of gender-based violence, a “theologian who works within the horizon of specific manifestations of sin, whether racism, sexism, or militarism, finds herself or himself reshaping the very categories of theological reflection” (Welch 1985: 56–57). Of course, the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures produced their ancient equivalent of counter-discourses and counter-practices. Moreover, feminist, womanist, queer, and liberation theologies, as well as public and political theologies, have been promoting and practicing political engagement for decades. So, I situate my work in that broad tradition. Lastly, I need to explain the use of the prefix counter in the terms counter-discourse and counter-practice. Later, this explanation will help clarify the meaning of opposition (chapter 6). In other words, theologians have a vocation to establish and embody opposition to the dispositif of strongman politics, but this does not mean theology adopts a purely negative position. Instead, opposition represents a genuine alternative, a counterpoint, something new, “Born in an opposition: it soon exceeds it” (Harcourt 2020b: 80). This is where the prefix counter is critical (cf. contre in French). The idea of counter is a key theme in Foucault (Davidson 2011). Notably, his concept of counter-conduct is a key instance of this. In the mesh of power-relations then, power is exercised by managing (conducting) conduct and the field of possible actions (Foucault 2007: 193). Historically, the Christian pastorate was formed for the sake of managing conduct (Foucault 2007: 195–196). For Foucault then, unsurprisingly, there were “revolts of conduct” in response to the church’s ethos and practice of obedience (e.g., Martin Luther). These resistances are best described as forms of counter-conduct (Foucault 2007: 210). Historically, mysticism has been an important expression of counter-conduct, because “Mystical experience short-circuits this hierarchy and the slow circulation of the truths of teaching” (Foucault 2007: 212). Subsequently, the counter theme is related to the issue of freedom. That is, in the mesh of power-relations, there is no unlimited freedom, but there is the freedom to resist. In other words, we can explore and exercise counter-conduct. Etiénne Balibar takes up the counter theme, developing it in a political context (Balibar 2016: 284). Likewise, Bernard Harcourt pursues the theme of counter-move, which surpasses “its oppositional object” (Harcourt 2020b: 79). In this vein, theology is called to be engaged in politics in the public square, fostering counter-moves by embodying opposition to a politics of entitlement and, in so doing, presaging the new. But what about transformation?

A theology of transformation The theme of transformation is central to this book. I indicate something here about my understanding of transformation, which I develop in

14 The problem of gender-based violence chapters 5 and 6. Basically, personal transformation involves undoing and re-forming the subject. It is a limit-experience, wrenching the subject from itself, relinquishing excessive entitlement. In the personal context, the emphasis is on limit-experience as a threshold. However, subjects are formed in cultural contexts. So, I also examine political rationalities that shape subject formation. In fact, cultural transformation entails the critique of rationalities that objectify others. In the cultural context, the emphasis is on limit-experience as a boundary. My theological premise is the reign of God, seen through the Johannine lens of eternal life, emphasizing immanence and the immediate future. For Jürgen Moltmann, the reign of God is the measure of theology, “Theology for God’s sake is always kingdom-of-God theology” (Moltmann 1999a: 5). For Moltmann, theology is “always kingdom-of-God theology”. In broad terms, the reign of God is central to the teaching, preaching, and practice of Jesus, and “Jesus advanced a prophetic praxis on behalf of the reign of God” (Copeland 2010: 59). As such, the reign of God is the creative presence of God in the world, which is experienced and anticipated (i.e., not yet, but already). The reign of God is transformative, personally and culturally. It is countercultural, because of its inclusive nature. It is for those who bear life’s stigma. For example, the story of the haemorrhaging woman exemplifies life under the reign of God (Mk 5:24b–34). In this story, the woman by virtue of gender and illness is doubly polluted, but Jesus invites her into community, he welcomes her as “daughter” (Mk 5:34). Like a Foucauldian disruption, Jesus breaks the rules (cf., the purity code). Moreover, “the central symbolic actualization of the basileia vision of Jesus is not the cultic meal but the festive table of a royal banquet or wedding feast” (Fiorenza 1994: 110). This is “the welcome table” (Copeland 2010: 61). In the face of violence, however, the driving question relates to discerning grounds for hope, here and now. So, my emphasis is on immanence, and signs of the new. To this end, I look at the reign of God through the prism of eternal life in John’s Gospel. The gospel writer here sees eternal life as “a present possession” (Ashton 2007: 401). This is a theology of the life of the new age, celebrating the possibility of being born anew. I also use the triptych of Nicodemus (Jn 3:1–15; 7:45–52; 19:38–42) to explicate this theology of transformation. The triptych of Nicodemus is a three-part editorial configuration undergirding the Gospel of John. On a technical note, I have chosen to use the term triptych to describe the threepart story of Nicodemus. In the triptych, the contrast between his original meeting with Jesus and the shadow of the strongmen forms a hinge, linking the three panels.9 In the first panel, Nicodemus seeks out Jesus. As a leader of the Jews, Nicodemus is an entitled man.10 In the second panel, Nicodemus intervenes to the vexation of the strongmen (cf. chief priests, Pharisees). In the third panel, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea receive the body of Jesus, because Pilate, an entitled Roman, granted Joseph permission. But I need to make some qualifications. With my interpretation of

The problem of gender-based violence 15 the Gospel of John, I focus on the world of the text (Schneiders 1991: 132ff; Ogden 2013). Of course, there are linguistic warrants for this (Brown 1966: 130). Moreover, these nuances articulate an experience of divine desubjectivation. At the personal level, I define divine desubjectivation as an encounter with the new. The encounter is a limit-experience. The experience entails transgressing (something dies) and enabling (something rises), where identity is disrupted and re-formed (i.e., born anew). In the remaking of the subject, there is a new sense of self and world. At the cultural level, I define divine desubjectivation as the disruption and reconfiguration of violent dispositifs. The limit-experience is expressed in discursive gestures of opposition and resistance to the dispositif of the strongman. So, I make a political reading of Nicodemus. In fact, the Gospel of John, “is a text that conveys, in and through such religious concerns and pursuits, a sharp sense of the political” (Segovia 2009: 156).

Chapter outline This is a theological exercise, focusing on the problem of violence. The aim is to develop a theology on the transformation of violent subjects. At this stage, I want to provide a brief chapter outline. In chapter 2, I develop Foucault’s concept of a dispositif (cf. apparatus, dispositive). In this context, I argue that certain dispositifs generate political rationalities, shaping subject formation. Moreover, the use of a dispositif is a strategic investigation of a complex problem, which acts like a frame circumscribing the problem. It represents a strategic focusing, where the “apparatus is thus always inscribed in the play of power” (Foucault 1980b: 196). Further, gender is a contested concept. I use it to define how relations are configured (e.g., binary logics), describing these configurations in terms of gender patterns. I argue that, while most men are not violent, there is a strong pattern of violence among some men. In addition, there are complex issues around the problem of control, and its relationship to violence. In chapter 3, I develop a working definition of entitlement, interpreting it as a gender pattern that entails the objectification of women. The objectification surfaces as a quasi-rights discourse (my wife), articulating a sense of entitlement that is expressed at the expense of others. I explore this in relation to intimate partner violence (IPV) as well as military violence. Critical issues include fear and shame. Excessive entitlement leads to the objectification of others, for example, on the basis of race. With entitlement, I examine proprietorial thinking and its relationship to personal identity. Proprietorial thinking entails the power of appropriation. This kind of thinking can be summarized as the privileged master is the owner. He is entitled, and the other is his possession.11 In chapter 4, I examine Foucault’s analysis of the practice of confession in churches of the pre-modern Latin West. For Foucault, confession has been grounded in a pessimistic anthropology and the practice of pastoral power. The

16 The problem of gender-based violence aim of confesssion then is to restore church order. It is about managing our conduct. So, confession is more about discipline than transformation. With transformation, however, Foucault’s critique raises the possibility of pursuing an alternative trajectory. So, then, having examined the church’s and Foucault’s trajectories, I begin to articulate my alternative trajectory of transformation, starting with the development of my conception of desubjectivation. In chapter 5, I develop my alternative trajectory of transformation. In this, desubjectivation is a limit-experience, which “has the function of wrenching the subject from itself” (Foucault 2000a: 241). This is the undoing and re-forming of the subject. In order to develop my notion of transformation further, I examine the work of Rowan Williams and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. I conclude with a reflection on the triptych of Nicodemus, focusing on the promise of the new, here and now. I use the triptych of Nicodemus to show there are resonances between this three-part narrative and my understanding of transformation. In chapter 6, I examine Foucault’s work on spiritual exercises and spirituality. His spiritual practices include care, self-critique, and a commitment to truth-telling, which might change our mode of being. In terms of personal transformation, I look at the effectiveness of using spiritual exercises and spirituality in working with IPV perpetrators. As the gains are modest here, I take a long-term view, focusing on cultural transformation. This leads to an exploration of strongman politics and the role that political rationalities play in forming the gender pattern of entitlement. In the long run, political changes have a significant impact on subject formation. Subsequently, theology is called to engage with the dispositif of strongman politics. In the face of strongman politics, I articulate the importance of theology producing counter-discourses, but there are ecclesiological implications too. The church’s production of counter-practices is also important. For instance, there is “baptism-as-declaration-of-resistance” (Myers 2008: 130). The use of baptism here, however, does not constitute an exercise in sacramental theology, but rather, it is a political reading of baptism, which provides a cogent example of desubjectivation. I describe desubjectivation as a limitexperience, which has a dual sense of transgression and threshold. A doorway, for instance, can be a boundary and a threshold. In chapter 7, I finish with a reflection on the events in Washington DC on 6 January. This sets the scene for critiquing my work, as I examine questions, findings, and theoretical insights. This includes developing fresh ways of using Foucault in theology, expanding the church’s thinking on violence, and clarifying theology’s political vocation.

Notes 1 Candel and Truliuc (2017: 258) distinguish between normal, excessive, and restricted entitlement. Significantly, they use an informal version of rights discourse to describe excessive entitlement.

The problem of gender-based violence 17 2 CRFD: 53, from arracher meaning “to lift…to pull up, to uproot…to tear ou pull out…to extract”. 3 Tracy (1996: 131, 146) develops a broad concept of limit-experience focusing on the disruptive impact of religion, its language, and its practice. Foucault’s concept, which will be clearer in chapters 4 and 5, focuses on subjectivity and the relation between the subject and experience. 4 I participated in a three-day training course on domestic violence with DV Connect Brisbane (2017). Overwhelmingly, DV practitioners used the word entitlement to describe the attitude of perpetrators. This represents an important opportunity to theorize entitlement (chapter 3). 5 The term desubjectivation comes from déassujettissement. Allen (2008: 60) argues it may be better to translate it as “desubjection”. I am continuing with desubjectivation, however, largely for pragmatic reasons, as this form is widely used. The issue then is how I define desubjectivation and use it in my theology of transformation. 6 For a succinct introduction to political theology, see Carle Raschke (2019: ix–xix). 7 “I would like my books to be a kind of tool box, which others can rummage through to find a tool which they can use however they wish in their own area”, from Dits et écrits II, 520–521 cited by O’Farrell (2005: 50). 8 Ward has a high Christology and an explicitly metaphysical system. Generally, I do not share Ward’s metaphysical presumptions, but he has important things to say about theology, culture, and discourse. 9 Segovia (2009: 176): “in a private conversation with a member of the Pharisees and a ‘ruler’ of Judaea, Jesus unveils an alternative religious and political entity, the kingdom of God, accessible only to those who undergo a process of re-birth, through water and the spirit, from the world of ‘flesh’ into the world of ‘Spirit’”. 10 See Whitenton (2020) for a historical (ancient) audience-oriented approach to the story. See Ashton (2007: 279) for analysis of the structural difficulties in John 3:1–15. 11 Nietzsche (1994: 49): “The feeling of guilt, of personal obligation, to pursue our train of inquiry again, originated, as we saw, in the oldest and most primitive personal relationship there is, in the relationship of buyer and seller, creditor and debtor: here person met person for the first time, and measured himself person against person… man designated himself as the being who measures values, who values and measures, as the ‘calculating animal as such’”.

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The problem of gender-based violence 19 Dubilet, A. (2018). The Self-Emptying Subject: Kenosis and Immanence, Medieval to Modern, New York: Fordham University Press. Fiorenza, E.S. (1994). In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, 10th anniversary edition, New York: Crossroad Publishing Company. Foucault, M. (1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge (and The Discourse on Language), trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith, New York: Vintage. Foucault, M. (1980a). “Truth and power” in C. Gordon ed., Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, trans. C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham, K. Soper. New York: Vintage Books, 109–133. Foucault, M. (1980b). “The confession of the flesh” in C. Gordon ed., Power/ Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, trans. C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham, K. Soper. New York: Vintage Books, 194–228. Foucault, M. (1990a). “An aesthetics of existence” in L.D. Kritzman ed., Michel Foucault Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977–1984, trans. A. Sheridan and others. New York and London: Routledge, 47–53. Foucault, M. (1990c). “The concern for truth” in L.D. Kritzman ed., Michel Foucault Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977–1984, trans. A. Sheridan and others. New York and London: Routledge, 255–270. Foucault, M. (1990e). The Use of Pleasure: The History of Sexuality, Volume. 2, trans. R. Hurley, New York: Vintage. Foucault, M. (1995a). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. A. Sheridan, New York: Vintage. Foucault, M. (1995b). “Truth is in the future” in Foucault Live, Collected Interviews, trans. L. Hochroth and J. Johnston, New York: Semiotext(e), 298–301. Foucault, M. (2000a). “Interview with Michel Foucault” by D Trombadori in J.D. Faubion ed., Michel Foucault: Power, trans. R. Hurley and others. New York: New Press, 239–297. Foucault, M. (2002). The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, London and New York: Routledge. Foucault, M. (2003a). “The ethics of the concern of the self” in P. Rabinow and N. Rose eds., The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, New York and London: New Press, 25–42. Foucault, M. (2003f). V. Marchetti and A. Salomoni eds., Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975, trans. G. Burchell, New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2003g). M. Bertani and A. Fontana eds., Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975-1976, trans. D. Macey, New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2005a). F. Gros ed., The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1981–1982, trans. G. Burchell. New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2007). M. Senellart ed., Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France 1977–1978, trans. G. Burchell, New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2014a). M. Senellart ed., On the Government of the Living: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1979–1980, trans. G. Burchell, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Foucault, M. (2016). H. Fruchard and D. Lorenzini eds., Michel Foucault About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Lectures at Dartmouth College 1980, trans. G. Burchell, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

20 The problem of gender-based violence Harcourt B.E. (2020a). Critique and Praxis, New York: Columbia University Press. Harcourt, B.E. (2020b). “Contre-/Counter-” in A.L. Stoler, S. Gourgouris, and J. Lezra eds., Thinking with Balibar: A Lexicon of Conceptual Practice, New York: Fordham University Press, 71–84. Hoeft, J.M. (2009). Agency, Culture, and Human Personhood: Pastoral Theology and Intimate Partner Violence, Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications. Hovey, C. and Phillips, E. (2015). “Preface” in C. Hovey and E. Phillips eds., The Cambridge Companion to Christian Political Theology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: xi–xvi. Irigaray, L. (1985). Speculum of the Other Woman, trans. G.C. Gill, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. Irigaray, L. (2007). Je, Tu, Nous: Toward a Culture of Difference, trans. A. Martin, New York and London: Routledge. Jordan, D.M. (2015). Convulsing Bodies: Religion and Resistance in Foucault, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. Kaufman, G.D. (1995). In the Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press. Long, S.D. (2008). Theology and Culture: A Guide to the Discussion, Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books. Mann, B. (2014). Sovereign Masculinity: Gender Lessons from the War on Terror, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. McSweeney, J. (2005). “Foucault and Theology” in Foucault Studies, 2, 117–144, https://doi.org/10.22439/fs.v0i2.863 Moltmann, J. (1999a). “Theology in the project of modernity” in God for a Secular Society: The Public Relevance of Theology, trans. M. Kohl, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 5–23. Moltmann, J. (1999b). “Political theology and the theology of liberation” in God for a Secular Society: The Public Relevance of Theology, trans. M. Kohl, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 46–70. Myers, C. (2008). Binding the Strongman: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus. Anniversary edition, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books. Newman, S. (2019). Political Theology: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge UK, Medford MA: Polity. Nietzsche, F. (1994). K. Ansell-Pearson ed., On the Genealogy of Morality, trans. C. Diethe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nichols, R. (2014). The World of Freedom: Heidegger, Foucault, and the Politics of Historical Ontology, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. O’Farrell, C. (2005). Michel Foucault, London: SAGE Publications. Ogden, S.G. (2013). “Wisdom as well as facts” in G.C. Jenks ed., The Once and Future Scriptures: Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church, Salem, Oregon: Polebridge Press, 43–61. Phillips, E. (2012). Political Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed, London and New York: T&T Clark. Pui-Lan, K. (2012). “Theology and social theory” in W.T. Cavanaugh, J.W. Bailey, and C. Hovey eds., An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Cambridge, UK. Eerdmans, 600–615. Raschke, C. (2019). “Foreword” in Jonathan Cole, Christian Political Theology: In an Age of Discontent. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, ix–xix.

The problem of gender-based violence 21 Schneiders S.M. (1991). The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scriptur, New York: Harper Collins. Segovia, F.F. (2009). “The gospel of John” in F.F. Segovia and R.S. Sugirtharajah eds., A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament Writings, London and New York: T&T Clark, 156–193. Tanner, K. (1997). Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology, Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Tillich, P. (1962). “The depth of existence” in The Shaking of the Foundations. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 59–70. Tillich. P. (1964). Theology of Culture, London, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. Tillich, P. (1965). Ultimate Concern, D. Mackenzie Brown ed. London: SCM Press Limited. Tillich, P. (1978). Systematic Theology III, London: SCM Press Limited. Tracy, D. (1996). Blessed Rage for Order: The New Pluralism in Theology. New preface, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Volkan, V.D. (2014). Psychoanalysis, International Relations, and Diplomacy: A Sourcebook on Large-Group Psychology, London: Karnac Books. Ward, G. (2005). Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Welch, S.D. (1985). Communities of Resistance and Solidarity: A Feminist Theology of Liberation, Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock. Whitenton, M.R. (2020). Configuring Nicodemus: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Complex Characterisation, London and New York: T&T Clark. Williams, R. (2007d). “The suspicion of suspicion: Wittgenstein and Bonhoeffer” in M. Highton ed., Wrestling with Angels: Conversations in Modern Theology. Grand Rapids Michigan, Cambridge U.K: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 186–202.

2

Violence, entitlement, and politics

The rationalities that shape subject formation Here is an overview of how I see the problem of violence in relation to gender. Basically, therapeutic attempts to change violent subjects have met with limited success (chapter 6). In the long term then, I am interested in the rationalities that shape subject formation, predisposing some men towards controlling behaviour and violent actions. In figurative terms, this approach is like preventative medicine, that is, the aim is to change the factors that contribute to the formation of violent subjects. Furthermore, the concept of rationality encompasses the development of the thinking patterns or logics that shape us as persons. So, in order to explore this I focus on violent men in military and familial contexts, with an interest in formative masculine gender patterns, where gender and politics are “mutually constitutive” (Scott 2018: xv). Subsequently, I am contending that the question of gender is germane to the problem of violence: Gender is not external to violence but can structure the core characteristics of the event that is a kind of social relationship between perpetrator and victim. Gender relations may thus not only structure the wider context and causation of violence, but also saturate or partially constitute its core aspects. (Walby et al. 2017: 52) For instance, the link between gender, gender-relations, and violence is evident in war, as “the association between masculinity and war is fundamentally part of what war is and how it works” (Sjoberg 2014: 3). In fact, Sjoberg argues that “war and conflict hold a privileged position in gender construction” (Sjoberg 2014: 164). So, in terms of violence and masculinity, political rationalities shape masculine gender patterns informing the subject formation of men, for gender “as a social pattern requires us to see it as a product of history, and also as a producer of history” (Connell 2005: 81). Moreover, there is an important relationship between the cultural and personal levels of analysis. For example, with gender symbols, military DOI: 10.4324/9780429273520-2

Violence, entitlement, and politics 23 combatants are often portrayed as heroes in the public sphere, subsequently influencing the subject formation of individuals. New combatants then enter war-conflict zones already shaped by existing gender patterns.1 In summary, then, I argue that political rationalities influence masculine gender patterns, which are conducive to violence.

A way of reading violence Nonetheless, the problem of violence is aporetic. So, the aim of this chapter is to develop a way of reading violence that is intelligible and workable, while respecting the complexity. The key concept here is the dispositif. Beginning with Foucault, I develop his concept of the dispositif, and apply it to familial and military violence, as well as the problem of strongman politics. In brief, a dispositif is a way of reading complexity, with all its entanglements, avoiding the temptation to reduce it into supposedly manageable segments. The term dispositif has been translated variously as apparatus, deployment, or dispositive. For practical reasons, I use the French term dispositif, as it is difficult to translate the term unequivocally. In brief, a dispositif is an irreducible complex of institutions, exemplars, discourses, and practices. It is used here as a way of interpreting the complexities of violence. Further, I describe my approach as a way of reading of violence to accentuate that violence cannot be clinically reduced to its constituent parts. We can, however, focus on patterns of violence. Interestingly, Deleuze describes the dispositif (apparatus) as “composed of lines of visibility, enunciation, lines of force, lines of subjectification, lines of cracking, breaking, and ruptures that all intertwine and mix together and where some augment the others or elicit others through variations even mutations of the assemblage” (Deleuze 2014: 128). In this vein, gender patterns of entitlement are like “lines of force” or “lines of subjectification”. Significantly, in a dispositif, the system of relations is not arbitrary. There is an element of intention. It is a strategic response to a pressing need. At this stage, it is important to prefigure pressing needs, which have to do with issues around power, status, and fear (cf., risk) at personal and cultural levels. So, in this chapter, I develop a way of reading violence, which also recognizes we live in an age of security. As such, there is a pervasive sense of fear, which has intensified since 9/11, surfacing as an almost universal concern about risk. Specifically, a sense of foreboding cultivates a logic (and reflex) around pre-empting threat, which creates and exacerbates violent situations. Further, to examine violence, I adapt and extend Foucault’s concept of the dispositif in order to address the interrelation between political rationalities and subject formation. In the process, I expand the meaning of the problem of violence. This entails recognizing the contested nature of the concept of violence. I then look at what could be described broadly as a genealogy of the practices of violence. The purpose of this is to

24 Violence, entitlement, and politics emphasize the changing nature of violence, and the aptness of using the concept of the dispositif for addressing complexity. I also trace the connections between military and familial dispositifs, which will be expanded in chapter 3. In anticipation of that chapter, Laura Sjoberg’s observation is worth noting, “war is more than declared military conflict between states that recognize each other’s legitimacy. It is coercive violence used in the service of competition and domination” (Sjoberg 2013: 274). There are in fact resonances between military and familial violence. In summary, I analyze the importance of the concept of gender, drawing out problems and possibilities. I establish a working definition of gender, highlighting the impact of gender patterns of entitlement in military and familial contexts. Finally, I develop the dispositif of strongman politics.

The age of security: Biopolitics, fear, and the logic of pre-emption In this section, I situate the problem of violence in a wider political framework, referring to it as the age of security. Later, I develop a more specific reading of this age in terms of the dispositif of strongman politics, that is, as a dispositif that has emerged in tandem with the development of neoliberalism. To begin, I am using the concept of security to describe the influence of political, economic, and social trends, which developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and proliferated after 9/11. So, “What does security do today? The answer may look simple. For many readers and researchers, it is not even a question, it is common sense: what security does is to diminish insecurity” (Bigo and McCluskey 2018: 11). Further, the concept of security is used in scholarly fields like international sociology, security studies, and international relations (IR). It is a contested concept. But I use the concept of security here as a way of holding in tension factors ranging from fear to the expectation of new forms of threat, which cultivate pre-emptive thinking and practices. The age of security then is premised on fear and the fear of insecurity. In terms of Foucault’s oeuvre, his interest in security was generally overshadowed by his interest in governmentality.2 In his 1977–1978 lectures, however, he explores security. He emphasizes here that the emergence of the age of security does not mean the disappearance of old patterns, that is, it is not a simple sequence of events, like “the legal age, the disciplinary age, and then the age of security” (Foucault 2007: 8). Instead, it is about a shift in power-relations, where security incorporates and intensifies law and discipline for the sake of security. Subsequently, Foucault identifies four apparatuses (dispositifs) of security: spaces of security, the treatment of the uncertain, the pertinent form of normalization, and the emergence of the concept of population. Generally, then, sovereignty is exercised within territorial borders, and discipline within individual bodies, but security is exercised over populations (Foucault 2007: 21). Overall, this signals a shift

Violence, entitlement, and politics 25 from security of territory to security of population. Of course, the concept of population is not new, but it is now managed positively and proactively. Furthermore, managing the population becomes an essential part of Foucault’s schema of biopolitics. Certainly, he does not address biopolitics expressly, but he outlines its features in the frame of the market. So, then, the population is critical for governmental practice. In this vein, the site of truth is not economic theory, but the market. The market is a site of justice, and specifically “a site of verification-falsification for governmental practice” (Foucault 2008: 32). The emergence of neoliberalism, especially since the Thatcher/Reagan era, does not in fact signify a laissez faire style of governance, but instead, it has come to represent “permanent vigilance, activity, and intervention” (Foucault 2008: 132). Clearly, Foucault was interested in the concepts of security and biopolitics, but he did not develop them comprehensively. So, I use Michael Dillon’s insights here as a supplement to Foucault’s seminal work (Dillon 2015).3 Building on Foucault, Dillon develops “an ‘analytic’ of the biopolitics of security” (Dillon 2015: 52). In this, risk has a role in establishing his biopolitics of security. For Dillon, risk is like a new form of currency (Dillon 2015: 101). This is evident in political and commercial discourses around risk assessment, risk profiles, reputation, and the importance of due diligence. Due diligence, for example, is not only about addressing the problem of contingency, but also, it is about being seen to address the problem. Subsequently, risk “commodifies contingency by first making it calculable and fungible” (Dillon 2015: 109). For Dillon, risk becomes “the epistemic object for biopolitics of security in the twenty-first century” (Dillon 2015: 104). So, the contingencies of life must be pre-empted and managed for the sake of the human species. This is about risk, and the fear of risk being mismanaged. The cumulative effect of the age of security is the exacerbation of the climate of threat. In short, fear is pervasive, and risk is the corporate face of fear. But where does violence come in? Ricky Wichum describes this climate of threat and its implications for establishing and reinforcing the “logics of pre-emption” (Wichum 2013: 15). In colloquial terms, the logics of pre-emption is about getting in first (before they get you). The logic of pre-emption entails addressing potential threats, real or imaginary, before they materialize. In practice, “we can consider that security dispositifs anticipate the radical uncertainty of threatening events by activating specific practices and forms of knowledge as well as discursive and non-discursive elements to rationalize this uncertainty” (Wichum 2013: 15). Under threat, then, the need to control others can be justified. In terms of violence, what are the specific implications of all this? At the personal level, controlling behaviour and violent actions are often pre-emptive in character, that is, addressing anticipated threats, real or imaginary. At the cultural level, others are perceived as threats (e.g., people of colour). And governments sacrifice others, for the sake of the species (e.g., Uighur and Rohingya).

26 Violence, entitlement, and politics

The dispositif A dispositif is a way of reading complexity, and violence is a complex problem. In reflecting on his work on violence, Étienne Balibar laments that “we should surely be able to say something other than it is unbearable and we are against it” (Balibar 2016: 1, 3). He describes the problem of violence in aporetic terms, claiming others have found it an equally difficult problem, concluding that older analytical categories have been largely unproductive (e.g., individual/collective; public/private). So, in pursuing “the question of violence and the concept of politics” (Balibar 2016: 19), Balibar raises the problem of “how to interpret the relationship between the depiction of the course of history and the distribution of the various modalities of violence” (Balibar 2016: 87). For the purpose of this book, he raises two crucial issues: first, the aporetic complexity of the problem of violence, and second, the problem of addressing “the various modalities of violence”. So, the concept of the dispositif addresses the complexity, as well as accounting for “various modalities of violence” like the military and the familial. Foucault describes the dispositif as “a thoroughly heterogenous ensemble” consisting of various elements, where the “apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements” (Foucault 1980b: 194). In my words, a dispositif is a complex that must be analyzed as a complex. It is irreducible. Accordingly, a dispositif is a way of framing complexity. Further, there are various dispositifs (familial, military, strongman), which are interconnected. In summary, a dispositif is a strategic investigation of a complex problem, which acts as a frame, circumscribing a historical period. It represents a strategic focusing, where the “the apparatus consists in: strategies of relations of forces supporting, and supported by, types of knowledge” (Foucault 1980b: 196). The strength of the concept of dispositif is that it focuses attention on elements and their interrelations constituting the problem of violence. The focus on complexity means it is a realistic approach to violence, and analytical without trying to identify causes precipitously. Instead, it is about outlining (mapping) formative contexts and networks of elements and relations, which encompass personal (micro) and cultural (macro) dimensions. In fact, “the framework of dispositifs is employed by Foucault to move between micro and macro levels of analysis” (Raffnsøe, GudmandHøyer, and Thaning 2016: 249). As a concept, the dispositif is like a diagnostic tool. In this vein, violence cannot be treated as timeless and unchanging. Context is critical. So, dispositifs are heterogeneous ensembles discerned in retrospect, in context, and in relation to other dispositifs. In terms of analyzing institutions or organizations, “the dispositional analysis can therefore avoid dualisms that distinguish between established and bounded entities, such as institution-individual” (Raffnsøe, GudmandHøyer, and Thaning 2016: 202). It cultivates an analytics of power that

Violence, entitlement, and politics 27 “refuses an ontology that divides the world into the unitary and the multiple, the separate and the connected, the autonomous and the dependent, and even the global and the local and the national and the international” (Dean 2017: 92). In conclusion, Foucault was interested in “the history of various forms of rationality” (Foucault 2003d: 200) and “the rationality intrinsic to the art of government” (Foucault 2007: 273). He argues that we need to analyze “specific rationalities” (Foucault 2003c: 128). In relation to subject formation, rationalities are expressions of a form of “individualizing power” (Foucault 2003c: 132). It is “a form of power that makes individuals subject” (Foucault 2003c: 130). It is this aspect of rationalities, that is, about making individuals subjects, which is pertinent here. In other words, it is rationality that shapes subject formation “by installing a most real dispositionality” (Raffnsøe, Gudmand-Høyer, and Thaning 2016: 201, 203). In my case, for example, it is about identifying a predisposition toward violence. So, therefore, I am interested in the relationship between rationalities and subjectivities, predisposing some men toward controlling behaviour and/or violence. In other words, “forms of rationality inscribe themselves in practices or systems of practices” (Foucault 2000b: 230), which are embodied. This means the body and a political rationality are not two ends of a continuum, that is, a micro-subject and the macro-political. Instead, a body is formed in, and as part of, a dispositif of violence by a constituting rationality, where “Its inevitable effects are both individualization and totalization” (Foucault 2003d: 201). As Margaret McLaren reflects, this recognizes “the connection between structural change and individual change that is implicit in Foucault’s work” (McLaren 2002: 11). Before proceeding, however, it is important to step back and examine the problem of violence in general.

Violence The meaning of violence is contested. Certainly, I focus on violent practices and discourses, military and familial. However, I need to say something briefly about the concept of violence. I say briefly because of the range of substantial, yet divergent, responses to the concept. However, the conceptual complexity serves to underline the logic of starting with violent practices. So, I want to signal some of the issues around violence. I begin with a contrast between the violence of Frantz Fanon (2004) and the measured reflections of Richard Bernstein (2013). Ironically, while their styles and accounts are different, Fanon and Bernstein both recognize the aporetic character of violence. For Fanon, radical and violent praxis is indispensable for the colonized, but he knows it also raises conceptual questions. For Bernstein, he addresses the conceptual questions fully aware of their violent potential.

28 Violence, entitlement, and politics With an eye to practice, Frantz Fanon (2004) has a challenging understanding of violence. His view was shaped by a brutal context. Unsurprisingly, Fanon responds to the violence of colonization with a passionate call to violence and “the creation of new men” (Fanon 2004: 2). He is aware, however, that there are important questions like “What in fact constitutes this violence?” (Fanon 2004: 33) In Fanon, violence signifies a redemptive and cathartic praxis for the colonized. Violence, for the colonized, “can thus be understood to be perfect mediation. The colonized man liberates himself in and through violence. This praxis enlightens the militant because it shows him the means and the end” (Fanon 2004: 44). For the individual then, “violence is a cleansing force” (Fanon 2004: 51). In his reading of Fanon, Sartre reflects on “the truth that no indulgence can erase the marks of violence: violence alone can eliminate them. And the colonized are cured of colonial neurosis by driving the colonist out” (Fanon 2004: lv). Bernstein, in contrast to Fanon, addresses the problem of violence in a measured, but not disinterested, manner. He is aware of the aporetic complexities and that “there is enormous confusion about what we even mean by violence” (Bernstein 2013: 1). Still, he is trying to articulate something of the limits of violence. He recognizes, for example, there are limits to the category of war. Nonetheless, this is not an intellectual exercise for Bernstein, because different conceptions of violence “so easily turn into physical violence – bodily harm and ultimately physical killing” (Bernstein 2013: ix). In all, the comparison between Fanon and Bernstein signals and frames some important issues. First, there are divergent views on violence. Second, both scholars recognize the sheer complexity of violence. Third, part of the complexity is the nexus between concept and practice.

A history of violence This section uses a different perspective on violence, which is sociological in orientation, in order to outline the complex historical development of violence, indicating how the concept of the dispositif is a fitting way of reading the complexities. As such, Siniša Malešević (2010, 2017) demonstrates how the nature of violence has changed, especially since the seventeenth century. So, then, I use Malešević’s work to provide an additional nuance on violence. He summarises violence by arguing: Put more bluntly violence and power are inherently linked as there is no power which in some way is not grounded in the manipulation of violence. However, the relationship between the two is not one-sided whereby coercion exists only as a means of political power. Instead what I would argue is that once unleashed, collective violence becomes its own master operating on its own tracks and creating new social realities. (Malešević 2009: 288)

Violence, entitlement, and politics 29 From this, significant factors emerge. First, in a political context, there is a dynamic relation between power and violence, and violence is not purely instrumental. Second, violence generates new social realities. So, what has this got to do with gender? Gender-based violence takes place in a broad political context, which shapes subject formation fostering the production of violent subjectivities. In an era that pre-empts threat, “violent subjects are the effects of specific cultural practices and relations of power” (Oksala 2012: 66). Culturally, then, we are more inclined now to respond to threat with violence. As a concrete example, one-punch violence is tied to “a larger and more complex story about life histories, bodies, leisure and the interpretation and reaction to social cues in particular contexts” (Asher, Halsey, and Lee 2016: 191). With IPV, for example, there are also contributing macro-factors, which are “constitutive of specific forms of the subject” (Oksala 2012: 66). The emphasis on wider political context is not regarded as tangential to, but formative of, violence as “gender-based violence is part of a wider system of violence and the extent to which it has its own aetiology” (Walby et al. 2017: 155). In this light, Malešević’s work (2010, 2017) on violence provides both a historical and sociological perspective on the wider political context. Malešević is interested in “the structural dynamics of violence” (Malešević 2017: 19). He acknowledges there is little consensus among anthropologists about the origins of its development, but there are clear developmental trends. He treats violence as a social relation that is “historically generated, structurally shaped and ideologically framed” (Malešević 2017: 88). Furthermore, he defines violence specifically as “a scalar social process involving intentional and unintentional action that generates coercively imposed behavioural changes resulting in physical, mental or emotional injuries or death” (Malešević 2017: 40). However, and this bears repeating, the key to his view of violence is built on the emergence and development of organizational structures, the disbursement of supportive ideological perspectives, and increased “microsolidarity” in social units (Malešević 2017: 149, 191). In rejecting essentialist accounts of violence, Malešević asserts that “much of human violence is profoundly social in character” (Malešević 2017: 2). It is clear that “war and violence are not pathological aberrations but integral parts of social life” (Malešević 2017: 49). So, his approach to violence can be summarized in terms of the threefold development of social organization, ideological support, and microsolidarity in social units (cf., platoons and families). Malešević begins his research with the post-Neolithic era, where “the emergence of durable and well-entrenched social organisations” distinguishes post- from pre-Neolithic worlds (Malešević 2017: 91). He addresses issues of technology, land ownership, social hierarchy, religious elites, and the “birth of social organisation” (Malešević 2010: 91). Subsequently, the early Bronze Age is “the cradle of civilisation and the cradle of war”

30 Violence, entitlement, and politics (Malešević 2010: 93). In other words, “technological innovations went hand in hand with organisational and doctrinal changes” (Malešević 2010: 110). In this vein, he addresses a range of issues, leading to the seventeenthcentury revival of Roman military practices, and the innovations of Gustavus Adolphus King of Sweden. Gustavus, for instance, initiated military academies, manuals, drill books, uniforms, written orders, and the articles of war. Further, the heavy losses of The Thirty-Year War also mark a turning point. With modernity, then, violence increases, “in 100 years modern human beings have managed to kill twenty-two times more people than our predecessors were able to do in 4,900 years” (Malešević 2010: 118). What began in earnest in the seventeenth century, escalated in the nineteenth century with the impact of technology and weapons manufacture like the machine gun, which is “a perfect symbol of instrumental rationality” (Malešević 2010: 127). In fact, “more people were killed in the twentieth century alone than in the rest of human history combined” (Malešević 2010: 3, 10). Consequently, modern warfare is “a form of callousness” (Malešević 2010: 129), which has become more rational, depersonalized, organized, efficient, and objective. For Malešević, the new mass killing culture is driven by the logic of the Enlightenment (cf. rational plans/irrational enemies) culminating in WW1. In this light, the Holocaust represents the callous imposition of bureaucratic routine and discipline.4 In summary, Malešević (2010, 2017) clarifies three aspects. First, humankind is by nature non-violent, as it normally shuns violence (Malešević 2010: 221, 227). Significantly, violence is learned, shaping our thinking and forming our predispositions, all of which underlines the importance of subject formation in relation to the problem of violent subjects. For Malešević, war “is a social, not a biological, fact” (Malešević 2010: 57). There are structural causes, as “social organisations, not groups or individuals, are the principal agents of conflict” (Malešević 2010: 44). Second, historically, violence develops over time, becoming more and more complex. In the last 50 years, violence has not diminished, but instead, it has become more widely diffused. In a simple way, the methods of violence have changed, because “the coercive capacities of states and other social organisations have increased to such an extent that mass killings can be replaced with alternative forms of violent action” (Malešević 2017: 141). Third, he is cautious about explaining the links between war and gender; nevertheless, while “it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove that one was the cause of the other, there is no doubt that their joint appearance was not coincidental”. (Malešević 2010: 296). As a supplement to this, Dillon and Reid examine violence specifically in the context of the age of security, where the biopolitical “circumscribes the discourse of what it is to be a living being to the policing, auditing and augmenting of species properties” (Dillon and Reid 2009: 29). Subsequently, “early preoccupation with circulation, contingency and connectivity was, for example, massively amplified by the biological and information sciences”

Violence, entitlement, and politics 31 (Dillon and Reid 2009: 57). Fear is magnified through its discourse of threat and danger. Like Malešević, war is linked here to instrumental rationality, which shapes our thinking. In terms of violence, pre-emptive war is then “a natural corollary of the biopoliticization of the liberal way of war. It follows logically from the very grid of intelligibility which biopoliticization brings to rule and war” (Dillon and Reid: 2009 43). Finally, they have some important things to say about fear, which is germane to my account of entitlement. For them, “fear becomes a generative principle of formation” fostering “a strategic calculus of necessary killing” (Dillon and Reid 2009: 86, 88). In other words, an excessive sense of entitlement predisposes some men towards violence, and it is partly driven, and sustained by, fear. In conclusion, this overview of war and violence outlines a basic genealogy. It began with the development of the efficient organization and mechanization of war, which depends on instrumental rationality, preparing the way for emerging neoliberal thinking and practices. In particular, the biopoliticization of war is in part a response to fear, and fear itself is a product of those processes. This fear, transmogrified later as risk, becomes characteristic of the age of security. In the face of fear, we start looking for a strongman. Ironically, an increase in the intensity and prevalence of fear works two ways. First, as fear of the strongman is exacerbated, it reinforces the strongman’s sense of entitlement to take pre-emptive steps in order to control and/or violate others. He is emboldened. Second, and related, fear can make the people more dependent on, and compliant with, the populist leaders.

The entitlement gender pattern Like a feedback loop, political rationalities affect subject formation, which feeds back into, and affects, the rationalities. So, I am arguing that there is a correlation between warfare, the military, and masculine gender patterns of entitlement; as “warfare and military institutions have been important in the making of masculinities and in many contexts militarised masculinity has been a crucial element in hegemonic forms of masculinity” (Christensen and Rasmussen 2017: 1). Further, I argue that Foucault’s work can be used as a starting point, for developing an interpretive framework for analyzing gender-based violence by addressing it as a dispositif. This encompasses macro and micro levels of analysis, and their interrelation, as there is “no spatial hierarchy between the global or geopolitical on the one hand, and the everyday or intimate on the other… similar and connected, domestic violence and international warfare are both multiply scaled and sited, and this underpins how they work” (Pain 2015: 66). In the age of security, moreover, the biopolitical context exacerbates dispositifs of violence, intensifying elements like contingency, threat, fear, and pre-emption. Furthermore, offenders see themselves as an exception to the law or they regard their own circumstances as exceptional. This in part constitutes a

32 Violence, entitlement, and politics masculine gender pattern of entitlement. Of course, there are many other factors, but entitlement authorizes and exonerates controlling behaviours and violent actions. So, I am interpreting entitlement as a masculine gender pattern, which predisposes some men towards controlling behaviour and violent actions. Such violence encompasses one-punch attacks, family violence, extrajudicial assassinations, and the systemic use of rape in war. All these instances could be described as examples of exceptionalism. But let’s be more specific. The prevalence of one-punch attacks bears testimony to the outworking of a specific rationality. These attacks are complex in terms of causes and manifestations. They are often alcohol-related, crossing over into other forms of violence. Moreover, non-fatal one-punch attacks are more common, though the motivation is similar. Nevertheless, one-punch violence is “emblematic of deeper issues to do with the prevalence and social sanctioning of violence… and the subtle, and not so subtle, encouragement of a particular kind of ‘subject’-the ‘strong’, physically dominant male” (Asher, Halsey, and Lee: 2016: 191). Understanding how violent subjectivity is shaped by a political rationality challenges “the myth of the sovereign man who rules over his otherwise inert body, as bodies are made and remade through discourse and through violence, and themselves exert a form of agency not reducible to the subject” (Wilcox 2015a: 197). In all this, entitlement gender patterns are critical in understanding violence at the personal and cultural levels of analysis. Nonetheless, the concept of gender is contested, and subsequently, here is my approach to gender. First, historically, the distinction between sex and gender has been productive in part, teasing out nuances, which have practical, personal, and political implications. But the distinction is not clear or agreed on. With this in mind, Rosa Braidotti’s definition is useful, as gender is “a notion that defines multiple social relations” (Braidotti 2011: 143). Second, the concept of gender provides a framework for addressing political rationalities that manifest in certain masculine patterns of behaviour, inclining some men to violence. So, I refer to gender in terms of discerning gender patterns, that is, in the sense of recognizing practices and discourses in specific contexts. Third, I could use the term gender script. But the word script in English has connotations of something predetermined, even fixed. I use a broader concept like gender pattern, not to obviate theoretical problems, but instead to underline the importance of looking at gender in practice. Of course, this is where the concept of the dispositif is crucial as a way of encompassing the complexity of gender patterns. Fourth, there is a question of agency. With Foucault, power/knowledge relations, discourses, and practices, combine to form a network of conditions and possibilities from which subjects are formed. The process of subject formation is potent; but not fixed. Instead, possibilities, as well as parameters, are set in train. So, I refer to emerging gender patterns, rather

Violence, entitlement, and politics 33 than predetermined gender scripts. Moreover, I adopt a broad concept of gender pattern, not only because the concept of gender is contested, but also because of the complexity of power-relations, identities, and cultures. As a working concept, the term gender pattern is a way of interpreting these issues in practice. In that perspective, discourse about gender patterns is contextual, multiple, and changeable. This entails attention to perceived differences, and how they are perceived, and by whom. Clearly, the issue of violence and masculinities is multilayered. But the idea of a dispositif of violence explains the genesis of gender patterns, which foster violent action, without recourse to biological essentialism (Oksala 2012: 11–12). Furthermore, violence has become part of what it means to be male. For Oksala, violent practices are constitutive of masculine subjectivity. In order to appreciate masculine entitlement as a gender pattern then, it is important to recall gender is a relational configuration (e.g., binary). For example, my sense of entitlement is worked out in relation to someone else. In particular, my entitlement is fulfilled at the expense of another. In this context, an excessive sense of entitlement is met, if and only if, the other is regarded as an object. The other is then de-personalized, and so we need “a gendered model of understanding that illustrates why women are predominantly ‘victims’ and men perpetrators” (Lombard 2013: 177). In conclusion, gender theory broadly recognizes that identity is worked out relationally, there are numerous identities, and identities can change. In terms of change, however, there are instances where identity seems fixed. For example, the high incidence of IPV perpetrators, who are resistant to therapeutic or spiritual interventions. This is what I refer to as entrenched entitlement. I am building here on the meaning of the word entrench. Literally, the word entrench means to place in a trench, or to surround with a trench, for the sake of self-defence (SOED: 831). Further, I refer to entitlement and male violence under the heading of gender pattern. I have taken the term gender pattern from the work of Connell (Connell and Pearse 2015), where it relates to structural processes, as part of the wider system (i.e., gender order). I adapt the concept of gender pattern with some poststructuralist nuances, from among others, Johanna Oksala (2012) for example on violence and rationalities, and Butler (2014) on the conditions of the possible (and, what does gender want of me?). The key to theorizing entitlement then is found in construing entitlement as a gender pattern, which is characteristic of violent men. Moreover, political rationalities help form the gender patterns that shape the subject formation of violent men. Subsequently, perpetrators, acting out of inscribed gender patterns, feel entitled to control or violate others. Furthermore, the objectification of women is central to understanding this gender pattern. In the West, entitlement is linked to proprietorial thinking, surfacing in a quasi-rights discourse (e.g., my wife, my home). Historically, then, personal identity is related to what is proper to me, and what is proper to me has personal (my person) and material connotations (my property). In a simple way,

34 Violence, entitlement, and politics proprietorial thinking is knowing what is proper to me. But what is proper to me? In this mode, my identity, my-self, and my-own are related. This is linked to the idea of identity as appropriation, which I will explore later, but it has a lot to do with the objectification of women in gender-based violence. It is important to see how all this relates to violent practices.

Violence and masculinity In this section, I examine war from the perspective of gender. Specifically, I examine war as a dispositif, its key elements, and their interrelations. Significant elements include political rationalities, masculine gender patterns, and various context-specific issues. I am also interested in the dispositif’s underlying urgent need and its strategic response. To this end, I use Laura Sjoberg’s work on war and gender as a starting point, building on this with David Duriesmith’s study of the new wars in Sierra Leone and South Sudan (Duriesmith 2017). In the process, I construe war as dispositif, tracing and anticipating some of its connections with familial violence. Further, Laura Sjoberg recognizes the complexity of violence in relation to war and so she uses the term “war and conflict” rather than just ‘war’ to indicate a range of conflicts, which are often hard to differentiate (Sjoberg 2014: 11–12). This explains my use of the term war-conflict. Furthermore, Sjoberg sees a strong connection between war-conflict and structural violence, economic instability, unemployment, poverty, poor working conditions, and domestic violence, as militarization “trickles down into the smallest details of women’s daily lives” (Sjoberg 2013: 258). From her perspective, war is shaped by masculinity. In fact, war histories then “are not only related to gender histories, they are gender histories. Perhaps less obviously, gender histories also are war histories” (Sjoberg 2014: 138). Sjoberg (2014) begins with questions about the meaning of war and its relation to gender. As an illustration, she exegetes the film Saving Private Ryan (Sjoberg 2014: 23–25). In the film, women are largely invisible; note the absence of women as nurses, guards, base-staff, military prostitutes, drivers, truck drivers, tank drivers, or factory managers. If women are visible in the film, however, they are stereotypical women, who keep the home fires burning for their men (and need their men to protect them). In fact, and this is paramount, “expectations of women as women and men as men are key to war narratives’ functioning” (Sjoberg 2014: 60). In other words, war narratives depend on, and sustain, a gender logic. She argues “that notions of innocent, helpless women are a key part of the ways that both soldiers and states justify wars – and a key thing that war-making parties fight for and fight to protect” (Sjoberg 2014, 15). In the prevailing gender logic, the warrior-men are emboldened by the need to protect socalled helpless women. Furthermore, Bonnie Mann observes that treating a warrior-man like a woman is profoundly humiliating for a man, even a form of torture. She explores the male fear of “feeling like a woman”

Violence, entitlement, and politics 35 (Mann 2014: 98). Likewise, Bourdieu, where “the worst humiliation for a man is to be turned into a woman” (Bourdieu 2001: 22). In fact, “normal accounts of war and conflict rely on stereotypical notions of gender” (Sjoberg 2014: 94), which are premised on “the logic of the relationship of domination” (Bourdieu 2001: 30). Masculinity, moreover, is often invisible because it is assumed as normative. Bourdieu was interested in this aspect and explored “the historical mechanisms responsible for the relative dehistoricization and eternalization of the structure of the sexual division and the corresponding principles of division” (Bourdieu 2001: vii-viii). So, then, “The strength of the masculine order is seen in the fact that it dispenses with justification: the androcentric vision imposes itself as neutral” (Bourdieu 2001: 9). Significantly, the strength of “the masculine sociodicy comes from the fact that it combines and condenses two operations: it legitimates a relationship of domination by embedding it in a biological nature that is itself a naturalized social construction” (Bourdieu 2001: 23). On that note, Bourdieu is interested in the concept of manliness, which is linked to what a man considers he must do in order to be a man. At this level, Bourdieu notes “men are also prisoners” (Bourdieu 2001: 49). Moreover, manliness “is first and foremost a duty” (Bourdieu 2001: 51), which is grounded in fear of the female (especially in oneself). Bourdieu notes that manliness is also expressed in notions like duty, honour, and nobility, which is similar to Christopher Forth’s historical exploration of male honour in the West (Forth 2008: 119). Like honour, “manliness must be validated by other men, in its reality as actual or potential violence, and certified by recognition of membership of the group of ‘real men’” (Bourdieu 2001: 52). This need for male validation is part of both Malešević’s concept of microsolidarity (Malešević 2017: 58, 167–168), and Mann’s exploration of platoon life. In summary, Sjoberg identified a logic of masculinity in war, which resonates with Bourdieu’s work on masculine domination. Likewise, Mann’s concept of sovereign masculinity encompasses this, adding a psychological element, which is “the aspirational conversion of shame to power and its cohort of affects/emotions. For the transformation to occur, the painful visibility of the shamed one must be converted to the proud visibility of the spectacular” (Mann 2014: 135). So, then, how important is shame? For Mann, gender is a kind of doing. It has a justificatory role, naturalizing male alibis (she made me do it). Manhood “is that which justifies itself” (Mann 2014: 181). With cumulative effect, the ontological weight of gender “is established through the process of sedimentation that turns contingency into necessity” (Mann 2014: 83). Moreover, the sovereign man, “declares his own state of exception, in which he fantasizes that he is no longer subject to human vulnerability and intersubjective dependency” (Mann 2014: 212). Thus, Mann links masculinity, manhood, shame, and the fear of vulnerability. Shame, then, epitomizes the shattering of manhood.

36 Violence, entitlement, and politics Ironically, the “anticipation of shame, of failure, is as necessary to sovereign manhood as air is for breathing” (Mann 2014: 145).5 In conclusion, a dispositional analysis can clarify gender relations. Clearly, the issue of violence and masculinities is multilayered. But the idea of a dispositif of violence explains the genesis and propagation of gender patterns, which foster violent action. Further, violence has become part of what it means to be male. The issues, of course, are bigger than the individual, as “Violent masculinities are usually collectively defined and/or institutionally supported, whether in informal peer groups (youth ‘gangs’), formal armies, or groups somewhere in between” (Connell 2000: 217). In terms of the binary logic, entitlement as a gender pattern reifies the male/female dyad by construing it respectively as subject/object. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick explains the inherently unstable nature of the dyadic structure, which is “an instability caused by the fact that term B is constituted as at once internal and external to term A” (Sedgwick 2008: 10). This instability intensifies the underlying fear, exacerbating possessiveness and entitlement. With familial violence, for example, there is a quasi-rights discourse expressing possessiveness (e.g., my children). In an inverse relation, male entitlement increases as the value of female identity decreases. But now, entitlement and gender patterns need to be examined in a broader cultural (political) context.

The dispositif of strongman politics I am interested in the relationship between personal and cultural transformation as it bears on changing violent subjects. I am interested then in the relationship between the subject and political rationalities. I am using strongman politics as a trope, standing for a dispositif that generates political rationalities and practices, informing gender patterns and shaping subject formation. As such, strongman politics is “a thoroughly heterogenous ensemble” (Foucault 1980b: 194–195). So, what makes up the strongman ensemble? The answer to the question entails an ongoing debate about how we characterize the politics of our day. The debate includes a raft of concepts like authoritarianism, fascism, populism, narcissism, and race. The meaning of each term is complex. In short, the discussion here proceeds in three stages. First, I am using the term authoritarianism as an umbrella term, encompassing numerous issues. Second, the term strongman is used widely today in social media and popular literature. Subsequently, I am theorizing the concept of strongman politics. I use this concept as a way of approaching authoritarianism from the perspective of gender. Third, and related, I develop the dispositif of strongman politics as a way of analyzing a heterogenous ensemble of discourses and practices, institutions, and exemplars. This ensemble represents the entanglement of factors that we find in the world as it is. The factors are entangled. They can be analyzed, but they are not easily untangled. In this, the concepts of authoritarianism, populism, and fascism are important.

Violence, entitlement, and politics 37 I use the term authoritarianism as an umbrella term. The meaning of the term has changed over time. As a benchmark, however, I accept “the evolution of authoritarianism, defined as a political system in which executive power is asserted at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches of government” (Ben-Ghiat 2020: 5).6 Today, however, there is still no one-size-fits-all approach to authoritarian leaders. For example, Trump and Putin can rightly be characterized as authoritarian leaders, but there are major contextual and cultural differences. The differences include personality, as well as political, historical, and geographical factors. Further, fascism is a related term. In technical terms, it pertains to a range of pre-1945 leaders and governments in Italy, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere. In this regard, Federico Finchelstein (2019) makes a strong case for looking at fascism in relation to populism, which includes instances from Latin America, as well as Europe and the United States. As an overview, fascism, on the one hand, is an anti-Enlightenment and anti-democratic movement, emerging out of WW1. Fascism uses violence intentionally and explicitly. Populism, on the other hand, is a contested term, but there are some important general principles. Populism, for example, does not use violence intentionally, but it may exploit the threat of violence. Emerging out of WW2, the modern iteration of populism exploits the democratic system for its own ends, in the name of the people. Elections themselves become a weapon in the armoury of populists (cf. Pinochet, Trump). In the populist vein, there are variations on a theme, which are partly contextual. Interestingly, some of the concerns about Trump were prefigured with the emergence of Berlusconi. Finchelstein acknowledges the recent rise of neo-fascist variations, but defines fascism proper as a pre-1945 phenomenon, where the people are one, the leader is the embodiment of the people, and others are regarded as enemies. In fact, others are objectified as enemies. Furthermore, fascism is a form of dictatorship. Typically, the leader is perceived in messianic terms (Finchelstein 2019: xxxvi, 17). The movement is usually anti-democratic, racist, and violent. Violence here is regarded positively as a viable political tool, used at the leader’s behest for the benefit of the people. In contrast, populism is the historical and political successor of fascism. Juan Perón then represents the first modern exemplar of populism. In populism, like fascism, the people are one, the leader is the embodiment of the people, and others are regarded as enemies. There can be left-wing, as well as right-wing populism. Populism is a form of democracy (or it emulates the spectacle of democracy). Typically, populism, unlike fascism, works within the democratic system, exploiting the system for its own ends. Of course, there are variations on a theme. Consequently, each authoritarian leader and every authoritarian regime needs to be analyzed in situ. Finchelstein has identified the following recurring features of populism, which include an authoritarian version of democracy, intolerance of diversity, an apocalyptic vision, and messianic nuances where the leader

38 Violence, entitlement, and politics becomes “the personification of the people” (Finchelstein 2019: 103–104). Trump, for example, represents an extreme form of populism, exploiting neoliberal thinking and practices, and always teetering on the brink of violence. In fact, there are reasonable grounds for arguing that Trump incited violence (i.e., 6 January storming of Capitol Hill). In this regard, Trumpism could be described as a form of aspirational fascism. That is, at one level, Trump works within the democratic system. In his 2016 election win, like a populist, Trump exploited the democratic system for his own ends. With his 2020 election defeat, like a fascist, Trump rejected the outworking of the democratic system. Gordon concludes that “Trumpism is sufficiently complex as to overwhelm any single framework of analysis” (Gordon 2018: 68). So, because of the complexities, I treat contemporary political systems as dispositifs. That is, complex ensembles, which encompass populism, aggrievement, narcissism, entitlement, racism, sexism, institutions, and exemplars. Moreover, the dispositif of strongman politics is a way of reading this complexity, especially post 9/11, all of which accentuates the gender dimension. But why is 9/11 important? This is more a question of an intensification than an absolute change. 9/11 represents a tipping point, that is, where the enmeshment of fear, threat, political rationalities, and entitlement reached new levels of intensity, as the “complexity of the spatial and bodily politics of fear has never been more apparent in global economies of fear since September 11 2001” (Ahmed 2014: 72). 9/11 then is an apt “point of entry” for investigating the problem of violence and the formation of violent predispositions (Mann 2014: 4). For Bonnie Mann, 9/ 11 is a defining moment in the United States, impacting gender identity and gender relations. 9/11 was cause for national shame, initiating a revitalization of national sovereignty along gender lines, as “national sovereignty, especially in the United States, is so profoundly bound to gender, both historically and today, that it is in fact an operation of gender” (Mann 2014: 8). The importance of establishing a certain kind of manhood has national and personal implications. It entails a denial of vulnerability (physical, intersubjective). To be a real man entails commitment to the control or elimination of the sources of fear, real or imaginary. In summary, I am interested in “the manhood-politics relation” (Brown 1989: 6). But why use the term strongman? Well, it is for a combination of factors. Presciently, Richard Rorty anticipated that failure to attend to “the nonsuburban electorate”, and its sense of aggrievement, would mean the nonsuburban electorate would start “looking around for a strongman to vote for” (Rorty 1999: 90). Furthermore, recall the images of the barechested Putin horse-riding or fishing. Clearly, this is a real man, muscular, stoic, and completely focused. He is in charge. This is his “street masculinity” (Ashwin and Utrata 2020: 6). He speaks for all people because he is the embodiment of the people. Of course, Putin and Trump “rely heavily on gender – ideas of masculinity and femininity, in his case performances of

Violence, entitlement, and politics 39 almost cartoonish bravado – in order to appeal to the broader public, and especially their base” (Ashwin and Utrata 2020: 2). Critical to all this is the objectification of women. In a way, they are treated as the enemies of the people.

The manhood-politics relation Foucault referred to the modern era as a dispostif (age) of security.7 I am using the term strongman politics synonymously with the term the age of security, in order to bring out the significance of gender patterns. Arguably, the age of security is a more expansive notion than strongman politics, but the age of security has been populated by strongmen. It makes sense. If the age of security is premised on fear, pre-empting fear, and risk management, then, of course, we need a strongman to govern us. He will save the species. So, I argue that the dispositif of strongman politics generates political rationalities that cultivate the production and normalization of violence, and so it is vital to know “how forms of rationality inscribe themselves in practices or systems of practices” (Foucault 2000b: 230). We still “need to cut off the King’s head” (Foucault 1980a: 121). For us, the strongman represents the return of the king, that is, an entitled or privileged strongman. It is important to articulate the central characteristics of strongman politics, which are embodied by exemplary strongmen. In this vein, Bourdieu, considers that “a ‘real’ man is someone who feels the need to rise to the challenge of the opportunities available to him to increase his honour by pursuing glory and distinction in the public sphere” (Bourdieu 2001: 51). In Duriesmith’s study of new wars in Sierra Leone and South Sudan, male perpetrators of violence were motivated by what it meant to be a real man, subsequently emulating “the big men” (Duriesmith 2017: 27). Further, the strongman is the exception. He sees himself as the exception, and as exceptional. He is hard to move, let alone remove. In the West, strongman exceptionalism is frequently linked to, and propagates notions of, white privilege in Europe as well as the United States. This is associated with the proliferation and management of ignorance (Spelman 2007). In summary, the dispositif of strongman politics influences subject formation, predisposing some men towards violence. There are other factors affecting the subject formation of violent men, but the entitlement gender pattern assembles and inscribes these factors, galvanizing institutions and individuals, prompting, permitting, justifying, and exonerating violence. In addition, the warrior trope of the European military tradition establishes proprietorial patterns of thinking and acting as normative. And these are characteristics of the contemporary strongman. To harness public sympathy and support, the populist leader channels the strongman. Ernest Laclau refers to populism as a “political logic” (Laclau 2007: 117). In practical terms, populism often appeals to a sense of

40 Violence, entitlement, and politics aggrievement, which is the premise behind Trump’s cry about draining the swamp. Historically, aggrievement in the West has been associated with the loss of white privilege, and the rise of white supremacism (Kimmel 2013). In political terms, populism then involves “the construction of internal frontiers and the identification of an institutionalized other” (Laclau 2007: 117). Hence, the catchcry let’s build a wall. The messianic is part of this. For example, there are messianic elements in Trump’s 2016 inauguration speech, which are framed by a future-oriented eschatology. The speech, written by Steve Barron and Stephen Miller, includes terms like “we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come… We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny…. we are looking only to the future…. a new vision will govern our land…. I will fight for you with every breath in my body… The Bible tells us … ‘how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity’… we are protected by God… infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator”.8 Clearly, “Those who claim to be an empire often seek a kind of messianic status for themselves as a world power whose supremacy gives them the right to rule others” (Ruether 2009: 5). There is a psychological dimension in this (e.g., narcissism). For example, Vamik Volkan (2014) conducted research in psychoanalytic large-group psychology. In that context, he identifies “entitlement ideologies” emerging in response to trauma (e.g., pandemic). This is where “a shared sense of entitlement to recover what was lost in reality and fantasy during a collective trauma” complicates the process of largegroup mourning, fostering “a narcissistic reorganisation accompanied by ‘bad’ prejudice for the Other” (Volkan 2014: 36). This is like using the myth of the good old days (e.g., when America was great) to bind the people together and, in the same breath, to exclude others. In conclusion, I am pursuing two major questions. First, what makes violent male subjects? Second, how do we change them? First, there are many contributing factors ranging from individual psychology to economic deprivation, but I am focusing on an excessive sense of entitlement. I chose to concentrate on this factor, not to the exclusion of others, but because there is something galvanizing about the gender pattern, that is, entitlement as a gender pattern shapes subject formation, encompassing other factors in the process. Second, attempts to change violent subjects, at the level of personal transformation, are generally slow, incremental, and of limited success. Nonetheless, this level provides clues about what to look for at the cultural level. To that end, there is a complex interaction between political rationalities, gender patterns, and individual subject formation. For practical reasons, I address these matters step by step, but in practice, this is not a linear process. Entitlement, at the personal level, reflects something of strongman politics. As such, entitlement emerges in a quasi-rights discourse, which is a feature of strongman politics. It is driven by a historic, almost universal fear of the other, such that “Xenophobic sentiment is mounting in quarters

Violence, entitlement, and politics 41 around the world, and strongmen political leaders are gaining power on the back of the global ‘war on terror’” (Harcourt 2020a: 11). The psychological source of this fear is symbolized by softness, evoking shame that can be converted to violence. For example, the fear of being made to feel like a woman, resulting in humiliation, is characterized by shame. It is important then to examine examples of gender-based violence in the next chapter, at the personal level, in familial and military contexts. In this context, then, I argue political rationalities, which influence subject formation, are common to several dispositifs of violence. So, a dispositif is a strategic investigation of a complex problem, which acts as a frame, circumscribing a historical period in a particular setting. It represents a strategic focusing, with “strategies of relations of forces supporting, and supported by, types of knowledge” (Foucault 1980b: 194). Furthermore, my focus is on genderbased violence. I am using the concept of gender to define how relations are configured (e.g., binary logics), describing these configurations as gender patterns. Critically, authoritarian regimes (cf. fascist, populist) are inherently binary (us/them, friends/enemies, entitled men/disenfranchised women). I use the concept of strongman politics as a dispositif, encompassing prevailing political rationalities (cf. authoritarianism, populism, narcissism, messianism, sexism, racism). Familial and military violence include other factors (e.g., racial, economic, and psychological) but they are enmeshed in the dispositif of strongman politics.

Notes 1 Sjoberg (2014: 11) refers to war and conflict rather than simply war, because it is difficult to define war unambiguously, and it is hard to differentiate war from certain conflicts. In my work, the term military is a shorthand term for a warconflict dispositif, and the term familial is a shorthand term for domestic violence in general and the IPV dispositif in particular. 2 Foucault (2007: 108–109) by governmentality, he meant first, “the ensemble formed by institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, calculations, and tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific, albeit very complex, power that has the population as its target, political economy as its major form of knowledge, and apparatuses of security as its essential technical instrument” (emphasis added). Second, “the tendency, the line of force, that for a long time, and throughout the West, has constantly led towards the pre-eminence over all other types of power - sovereignty, discipline, and so on - of the type of power that we can call ‘government’”. Third, and where “the state of justice of the Middle Ages became the administrative state in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and was gradually ‘governmentalized’”. 3 Dillon’s (2015: 80) departure from Foucault is based on seeing the modern set in “the temporal enframing of factical finitude”. Arguably, factical finitude, which is Dillon’s term, captures the (empty) spirit of our age. 4 Doel (2017), from the perspective of political geography, posits the rise and diffusion of violence over the last three centuries in a way that parallels Malešević. Like Malešević, Doel sees the seventeenth century as a turning point. In the nineteenth century, this escalates with developments associated with the Napoleonic wars, American Civil War, and Boer War. Doel identifies an

42 Violence, entitlement, and politics

5 6 7

8

important shift – in thinking, strategy, and practice – from countering specific enemies to engineering mass annihilation. For example, Doel examines the Boer War, and its development of the proto-concentration camp. In the twentieth century, Doel describes war as an outworking of Enlightenment rationality culminating in “the invention of the human slaughter industry” (89). Of course, the Holocaust represents this rationality in extremis. For an exploration of the relationship between shame and violence, see Ray (2018: 154–158, 182–189). This book is written for a broader or popular market, but has some very useful historical material. Thomas Nail’s comment (Koopman, 2017) about Foucault’s method is apt here “his histories are almost always geographically restricted to Europe. This results, in my opinion, in a failure to uncover some very important historical and geographical dispositifs. Furthermore, he does not give us an accurate picture of the mixture of the different dispositifs through history so it ends up looking pretty linear at times”. For a detailed analysis of Trump’s inauguration speech, see Huffer et al. (2018).

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44 Violence, entitlement, and politics Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984. New York: The New York Press, 180–201. Foucault, M. (2003g). M. Bertani and A. Fontana eds., Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975-1976, trans. D. Macey. New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2005a). F. Gros ed., The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1981-1982, trans. G. Burchell. New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2007). M. Senellart ed., Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France 1977-1978, trans. G. Burchell. New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2008). M. Senellart ed., The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979, trans. G. Burchell. New York: Picador. Gordon, P.E. (2018). “The authoritarian personality revisited: Reading Adorno in the age of Trump” in W. Brown, P.E. Gordon, M. Pensky, Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 45–84. Halberstam, J. (2018). Female Masculinity, 20th anniversary edition, Durham and London: Duke University Press. Harcourt B.E. (2020a). Critique and Praxis, New York: Columbia University Press. Huffer, L. (2010). Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory, New York: Columbia University Press. Huffer, L. Ogden, S. Patton, P, and Sawicki, J. (2018). “Foucauldian Spaces: Round Table Discussion”, in Foucault Studies, 24, 77–101, https://doi.org/10.22439/ fs.v0i24.5527 Kimmel, M. (2013). Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era, New York: Bold Type Books. Koopman, C. (2011). Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Koopman, C. (2017). “Ways of Doing Genealogy: Inquiry after Foucault. A Group Interview with Verena Erlenbusch, Simon Ganahl, Robert W. Gehl, Thomas Nail, and Perry Zurn”, in Le foucaldien, 3.1, https://doi.org/10.16995/lefou.25 Laclau, E. (2007). On Popular Reason, London and New York: Verso. Lombard, N. (2013). “What about the men? Understanding men’s experiences of domestic abuse within the gender-based model of violence” in N. Lombard and L. McMillan eds., Violence against Women: Current Theory and Practice in Domestic Abuse, Sexual Violence and Exploitation. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 177–193. Malešević, S. (2009). “Collective violence and power” in S.R. Clegg and M. Haugaard eds., The SAGE Handbook of Power. London, SAGE Publications, 274–290. Malešević, S. (2010). The Sociology of War and Violence, New York: Cambridge University Press. Malešević, S. (2017). The Rise of Organised Brutality: A Historical Sociology of Brutality: A Historical Sociology of Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mann, B. (2014). Sovereign Masculinity: Gender Lessons from the War on Terror, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. McLaren, M. (2002). Feminism, Foucault, and Embodied Subjectivity, Albany, NY: State University of New York.

Violence, entitlement, and politics 45 McSweeney, J. (2013). “Religion in the Web of Immanence: Foucault and Thinking Otherwise After the Death of God” in Foucault Studies 15, 72–94. Moffitt, B. (2020). Populism, Cambridge, UK; Medford, USA: Polity Press. Oksala, J. (2012). Foucault, Politics, and Violence, Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Pain, R. (2015). “Intimate war” in Political Geography, 44, 64–73. Raffnsøe, S., Gudmand-Høyer, M., and Thaning, M.S. (2016). Michel Foucault: A Research Companion, Basingstoke, UK, and New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan. Ray, L. (2018). Violence and Society, 2nd edition, Los Angeles, SAGE Publications. Rorty, R. (1999). Achieving our Country, Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press. Ruether, R.R. (2009). Christianity and Social Systems: Historical Constructions and Ethical Challenges, New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Scott, J.W. (2018). Gender and the Politics of History, 30th anniversary edition, New York: Columbia University Press. Sedgwick, E.K. (2008). Epistemology of the Closet, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. Sjoberg, L. (2013). Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War, New York: Columbia University Press. Sjoberg, L. (2014). Gender, War, and Conflict, Cambridge, UK. Malden, MA, US; Polity Press. Spelman, E.V. (2007). “Managing ignorance” in S. Sullivan and N. Tuana eds., Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. New York: State University of New York Press, 119–131. Volkan, V.D. (2014). Psychoanalysis, International Relations, and Diplomacy: A Sourcebook on Large-Group Psychology, London: Karnac Books. Walby, S., Towers, J., Balderston, S., Corradi, C., Francis, B., Heiskanen, M., Helweg-Larsen, K., Mergaert, L., Olive, P., Palmer, E., Stöckl, H., and Sofia Strid, S. eds. (2017). The Concept and Measurement of Violence against Women and Men, Bristol, UK; Chicago, USA: Policy Press. Wichum, R. (2013). “Security as a Dispositif: Michel Foucault in the field of security” in Foucault Studies, 15, 164–171, https://doi.org/10.22439/fs.v0i15.3996 Wilcox, L.B. (2015a). Bodies of Violence: Theorizing Embodied Subjects in International Relations, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Wilcox, L.B. (2015b). “Bodies and Violence: Theorizing embodied Subjects in International Relations” in The Disorder of Things; https://thedisorderofthings.com/2 015/07/12/bodies-of-violence-theorizing-embodied-subjects/ Wodak, R. (2021). The Politics of Fear: The Shameless Normalization of Far-Right Discourse, Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.

3

The significance of entitlement

Entitlement The main issue here concerns the meaning of entitlement in relation to gender-based violence. Intimate partner violence (IPV) research and practice rely on the concept of entitlement. Evan Stark (2007, 2013), for example, provides seminal indicators about the meaning of entitlement, and its link with a form of rights-talk. The aim of this chapter is to provide substantial theorization of the concept of entitlement, which is grounded in familial and military violence. In terms of my book, the premise here is that the concept of entitlement is critical in terms of addressing the problem of violent subjects. Domestic violence (DV) practitioners have a clear practical understanding of entitlement. Repeatedly, DV practitioners observe in men something about their presumed right to control or violate women.1 DV practitioners and researchers describe this attitude and behaviour as entitlement. The term entitlement is part of the DV researcher’s conceptual toolbox, for example, “for some men marriage is a ‘license to control,’ legitimating their feelings that as husbands they are entitled to control ‘their women’” (Johnson 2008: 35, 130). So, this chapter is interested in what it means to have a sense of entitlement. By this, I am not saying anyone with a sense of entitlement will be violent. Instead, I argue political rationalities shape and inform the subject formation of violent people, especially some men, so that they feel entitled to control or violate others. In other words, they are predisposed to controlling behaviour and violent actions. Finally, and for the sake of focus, I need to make three preliminary qualifications. First, most men are not violent (Malešević 2010, 2017). But the issue of control is another matter. The issue of control is a major problem. Second, there are some violent women and violent gay men. Third, from a global perspective, however, men are the main perpetrators of violence against women (and children). This is based on prevalence (e.g., femicide) and the nature of the violence (e.g., intimate terrorism). Entitlement encompasses a range of thoughts, discourses, and practices, with historical and cultural variations. It has links, informal as well as DOI: 10.4324/9780429273520-3

The significance of entitlement 47 formal, with a broad or quasi notion of rights. In other words, entitlement discourses include an implied rights-claim, authorizing and justifying controlling behaviour and/or violent actions. Specifically, violent male subjects feel entitled to make claims on their partner. Curiously, there is something about rights talk, even quasi-rights talk, which has normative force. I say curious because it is not entirely clear why rights talk commands attention, let alone compliance. Karen Zivi argues that rights claiming in general should be regarded as “a performative practice” (Zivi 2012: 14). In the context of IPV, quasi-rights talk has the capacity to lay claim to the other. Of course, quasi-rights discourse often occurs in the context of a range of inequities (e.g., economic). Typically, then, entitlement discourses run like this: this is my house and you’ll do what I say. Entitlements, in these situations, are realized at the expense of the rights of others: As we’ve seen, however, the micromanagement of how women perform as women lies at the heart of coercive control and is emblematic of how coercive control violates their equal rights to autonomy, personhood, dignity, and liberty. Compliance with “rules” that extend to the trivia of daily life makes abusive men appear omnipotent and women like nothing. (Stark 2013: 31) In the process, the other is treated as an object, like a piece of property. Having a sense of entitlement then is often expressed as a form of rights discourse. The concept of right, in such discourse, is an informal and imagined right. I say imagined because these quasi-rights are more takenfor-granted presumptions than formally justified rights. So, then, entitlement discourses express a demand for the maintenance of imagined and/or perceived rights. Moreover, this sense of demand is exacerbated in an era that emphasizes “the primacy of individual rights”.2 Furthermore, such discourses include terms like right, responsibility, and the liberal use of the first-person possessive pronoun. Significantly, a sense of entitlement is one of the drivers behind military as well as familial violence. Jacqui True, for example, identifies entitlement as a factor in a military setting: However, working without regular pay or proximity to their own wives/partners but with a sense of entitlement as “male breadwinners” due to traditional gender divisions of labor, soldiers may rape with impunity or tacit approval of commanding officers, rationalizing it as a form of compensation: “taking what’s mine or what’s due to me”. (True 2012: 122) A perpetrator’s sense, and expression, of entitlement is part of a selfauthorizing process. The entitled man sees himself as the locus of authority. He makes the rules. In the spirit of an archaic saying that an Englishman’s

48 The significance of entitlement home is his castle, the entitled man is king. So, what is the key to theorizing entitlement? An excessive sense of entitlement is the outworking of a gender pattern in the dispositif of gender-based violence. In other words, entitlement does not emerge from a cultural vacuum. In brief, a dispositif is a strategic response to an urgent need. As such, entitlement entails the development and implementation of strategies, implicitly and explicitly, pre-empting threats to power and status. In that context, I argue political rationalities, embodied subjectivities, masculine gender patterns, and a climate of fear are formative elements in familial and military dispositifs. Specifically, political rationalities play a role in subject formation establishing gender patterns, predisposing certain subjects toward violence as the “Logics of masculine violence are interconnected” (Duriesmith 2017: 25). So, excessive entitlement reflects an enduring gender pattern, which surfaces in thinking, discourses, and practices. Subsequently, I develop the concept of entitlement in three broad stages. First, I present IPV as an example of gender-based violence. It bears repeating here that the term entitlement is a recurring feature of IPV research, literature, and practice. Sociologist and forensic social worker Evan Stark observes that almost “every victim of coercive control I’ve worked with felt their femininity was under siege, and every perpetrator understood he was defending the entitlements of manhood, even when the most obvious professions of hatred were directed at the victim’s race, age, or disability” (Stark 2007: 392). IPV, however, is a multilayered problem, surfacing in diverse ways depending on context, personal history, and economic factors. The nature of violence varies, but controlling behaviours consistently form the background of violence. Typically, violence emerges as a symptom of thwarted control. Control, nevertheless, in the absence of overt forms of violence, constitutes a covert form of violence. To clarify this, I focus on femicide. Femicide can include violence like honour killings, but I am focusing on men who murder women in intimate partner relationships. Second, I outline the entitlement spiral, which is my description of the dynamic nature of excessive entitlement. I describe this dynamic as a spiral, and not as a cycle, because it is evolving, summarized figuratively here as I know I did the right thing (because I have the right to do it). The last part of this figure of speech is in parenthesis because, with entitlement, the presumption of being right is not always stated. Moreover, I refer to entitlement discourse as quasi or informal rights discourse, because it is more an emotive expression of a sense of entitlement – even if it includes technical terms – than a descriptive account of formal entitlements. Third, excessive entitlement is an expression of a certain kind of masculinity, which implements strategies, pre-empting threats to power and status. In the dispositif of strongman politics, the quintessential fear is the prospect of being made to feel like a woman. Historically, this has been reinforced by the inter-meshing of two elements, first, a fear of and

The significance of entitlement 49 contempt for the feminine (cf., softness), and second, the emergence of rights discourses fusing identity and property (e.g., my wife). In this vein, I am entitled to use violence to protect my manhood. Curiously, the entitled man has ambivalent feelings about other men. On the one hand, the entitled man is the locus of sovereignty. Other men are competitors, vying with him for power and status. In competing for possessions, or the right over possessions, the other man is a threat. On the other hand, the entitled man worries about the approval of other men. This concern about the regard of other men is what binds military squads together (cf., microsolidarity). Moreover, a failure to improve status, or loss of status, is a source of shame. And shame is a factor that predisposes some men towards controlling behaviour and violent actions.

Intimate partner violence This is an overview. Within the constraints of this book, I cannot do justice to the breadth of IPV research and practice. By overview, however, I mean a reliable account of IPV, which articulates something of the nature of entitlement. In this overview: • • •

A working definition of IPV is provided The importance of power and status is underlined Entitlement discourses and practices are identified

IPV encompasses, “current spouse; current cohabitating partner; current non-cohabitating partner (boyfriend/girlfriend but not married); former spouse, former cohabitating partner and former non-cohabitating partner (boyfriend/girlfriend but not married)” (Walby et al. 2017: 53). IPV manifests in various ways, challenging “the assumption of alignment between one perpetrator, one victim and one event” (Walby et al. 2017: 38). IPV ranges from situational couple violence to intimate terrorism (Johnson 2008: 6ff). But IPV is complex. For example, there are instances where men are victims. Nevertheless, offenders are predominantly male (cf. femicide). Ironically, men in war are also victims of sexual violence, but this can also represent the violent imposition of entitled masculinity. In sexual violence, a man is made to feel like a woman (e.g., rape, beating of genitals). In sexual violence, the masculine status of the violator is raised simultaneously as the victim is humiliated by forced feminization. Moreover, what I am calling the entitlement gender pattern is replicated in war-conflict, that is, when “men are raped by dozens of soldiers or combatants, such as in Eastern Congo, or when they are used as sex slaves, obvious dynamics of domination and of symbolic emasculation are at play” (Féron 2018: 33). I interpret IPV then from within a wider political context to explain how violent masculinities are formed. IPV, for example, also needs to be seen in relation to other forms of gendered violence. In other words, IPV occurs

50 The significance of entitlement within a specific political context, and yet this micro world is shaped by the macro. In this wider context, gender inequality is a major factor. From a southern Asian perspective, for example, Shamita Das Dasgupta argues it has “become apparent that, to prevent violence against women and girls, there needs to be a fundamental paradigm shift and significant resocialization in new egalitarian cultural values, beliefs, and practices” (Dasgupta 2017: 133). From a Western perspective, Evan Stark concludes that ending “coercive control and establishing sexual equality are inseparable” (Stark 2013: 32). Critically, there is a tendency to minimize or remove IPV from the public sphere. Sociologist Larry Ray (2018: 113–135), for example, raises concerns about the privatization of violence and the transformation of intimacy. For example, historically, criminal justice and public crime have neglected private violence. This is part of the problem with using terms like domestic or family to describe forms of violence, which subsequently diminishes or trivializes their relevance and seriousness. Historically, DV was not taken seriously, unless the injuries were severe. Historically, psychological and emotional abuses and injuries were trivialized, minimized, or discounted. Today, compared to other offences, DV is more likely to involve repeat victimization. In this light, males, as well as females, experience DV, but severe escalating violence is more likely to be carried out by a male offender. For Ray, IPV “is complexly bound up with issues of power and masculinity” (Ray 2018: 130). Specifically, he rejects essentialist readings of complex issues (Ray 2018: 135). In general, this construal is supported by Duriesmith’s study of the new wars in Sierra Leone and South Sudan, where violence, including sexual violence, compensates for the lack or loss of status (Duriesmith 2017: 24). The issue of status, which is part of what Connell describes as “the patriarchal dividend” (2000: 35), is a motivating factor for violence (cf. pre-emptive threat).

On men who murder women With IPV, intimate partners “are the most frequent perpetrators of the homicide of women” (Walby et al. 2017: 62). Homicide, moreover, “is the only type of violence for which data from administrative records is close to the real level of violence” (Walby et al. 2017: 65). In spite of “difficulties in producing data that is exactly comparable between countries, homicide data is the most robust measure of violence” (Walby et al. 2017: 69). So, in this section, I examine femicide for three reasons. First, femicide provides reliable statistics about a significant form of gender-based violence. Second, the preponderance of male murderers provides additional evidence of the adverse influence of gender in the construal of violence. Third, an IPV murder is more strategic than incidental. It constitutes the ultimate act of entitlement. It is the ultimate claim over the other. Ultimately, her dead body is a measure of his entitlement.

The significance of entitlement 51 Before proceeding to examine femicide, I need to underline the prevalence of gender bias in the interpretation and recording of violence against women. Adrian Howe (2008), for example, demonstrates how murderers are construed differently by criminologists based on biological sex. She addresses “the ‘Man’ question, so named because it pays attention to the discursive place occupied, or more usually vacated, by men in accounts of their violence against women” (Howe 2008: 1). In other words, what happens “when you sex violent crimes – that is, when you insist that violence is located within sexed, or as some prefer to call them, gendered relationships?” (Howe 2008: 1) She has a dual focus. First, Howe concentrates on men, who are responsible for “the vast majority of assaults and murders that I eventually came to name as ‘sexed violence’” (Howe 2008: 6). Second, she examines the work of criminologists, who are predominantly male and formed by a modernist criminological perspective. In terms of criminologists, Howe examines discourses and reports, identifying “sex-biased criminological explanations of interpersonal violence” (Howe 2008: 13, 77, 88). Howe makes several observations, which could be summarized as criminologists making apologies for men’s violence. This includes blaming battered women for the violence of men, minimizing the crime because the victims were supposedly hysterical, blaming the murderer’s mother or family of origin, de-sexing the sex crime, and describing women as provocative as in she was asking for it. Finally, Howe describes how the murderer is also re-presented as the hero (Howe 2008: 142).3 With this in mind, it is important to return to the issue of femicide. Using official records, case files, and interviews, Dobash and Dobash examined 667 murders, investigating “all types of murder committed by and against men, women, and children, and to do so in a way that would expand knowledge about the act of murder, the situations and circumstances in which it occurs” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 245). They look at different types of murder: men who murder men, men who murder older women, murder and sexual violence, and, of course, men who murder their intimate partner. They look at these murders from “the lifecourse of the perpetrators from childhood to adulthood and in prison” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 246). As a group, compared to other murderers, IPV murderers are different. In the four groups, most men had similar life experiences, like “serious antisocial and criminal behaviour” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 247). With IPV murderers, about “one quarter of these men did not experience adversity in childhood. They grew up in relatively conventional families and had no prior convictions before committing murder. Alcohol abuse was common to all, but least likely among the group of men who murdered an intimate partner” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 247). As a group, then, IPV murderers “were more likely to have obtained educational qualifications and to be regularly employed and less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs and to engage in persistent criminal behavior” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 248). With IPV murderers, Dobash and Dobash conclude:

52 The significance of entitlement It is men’s orientations to and assumptions about the appropriate behaviour of women, their sense of entitlement over women, and the need to uphold their own moral universe that led to the murder of the vast majority of women partners… Almost all of the relationships involved long-term conflicts and disputes often regarding the man’s possessiveness and jealousy… Conflicts leading to violence are not restricted to possessiveness and jealousy but are also associated with various aspects of daily life that involve male privilege and authority including issues around money, domestic work, and the care and custody of children. (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 253) Generally, IPV murders are not a “mistake” or the case of reaching a tipping point, because many of them had “a fixed firm intention to kill their partner” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 254). On being convicted, many of these men “saw themselves as victims who had been wronged” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 254). From a psychological perspective, male “sexual jealousy and control are the primary motivations of men who kill female partners” (Miethe and Regoeczi 2016: 133). In conclusion, femicide has been chosen for several reasons. First, homicide statistics are generally reliable (Walby et al. 2017: 13, 65). The collection of statistics globally is not ideal, nonetheless, femicide “challenges the gender neutrality of the concept of homicide” (Walby et al. 2017: 60). This underlines the need to disaggregate criminal, judicial, and bureaucratic statistics. In other words, there are significant gender issues in relation to how crimes are recorded. Second, the interpretation of murder is adversely influenced by gender bias. This includes minimizing, concealing, or eliding the man’s responsibility as a murderer, or treating the murderer as a hero exercising his entitlement. Third, because of the significance of the body, especially a dead body, murder is the ultimate expression of the violent potential of entitlement. And murder constitutes the ultimate rights-claim over the other.

I know I did the right thing (because I have the right to do it) A dispositif of violence, familial or military, is a complex interplay of subjects and contexts. In this book, the concept of entitlement is an important element in this interplay. In Evan Stark’s words, “every victim of coercive control I’ve worked with felt their femininity was under siege, and every perpetrator understood he was defending the entitlements of manhood” (Stark 2007: 392). Moreover, IPV-related thoughts, practices, and discourses are influenced by political rationalities (e.g., what was he thinking?). In terms of rationality then, we need to analyze “specific rationalities” (Foucault 2003c: 128). Moreover, I am interested in the relationship between rationalities and subjectivities, predisposing men towards violence. So, by placing the discussion about entitlement in the

The significance of entitlement 53 context of the formative role of political rationality, I am setting the discussion in the mesh of power-relations. Of course, every manifestation of entitlement has its own micro features, but its constituent elements are influenced by, and in turn influence, political rationalities (cf., the strongman). With entitlement, cultural factors “are deeply embedded in society, cutting across class, ethnicity, religion or region of the globe” (Weil, Corradi, and Naudi 2018: 83). Entitlement needs to be analyzed in the context of the mesh of powerrelations. The issue of power-relations is critical for interpreting gender inequality in relation to violence. In particular, excessive entitlement exploits power differentials. Further, it manifests itself as a form of rightstalk. In French, entitlement is related to droit (right or law) in the sense of prerogative as in avoir droit à “to be entitled to, to be eligible for”, avoir des droits sur “to have rights over”, or être en droit de faire “to have a ou the right to do, to be entitled to do” (CRFD: 307). In political terms, “the entitlement to participate in political life following the French Revolution (and the right to vote, in the constitution of 1791) depended on income and property owning status” (Chevalier 2014: 184). Citizenship itself is tied to the language of rights (Balibar 2016: 146). In the West, then, there is a relation between entitlement, identity, property, and propriety, which is also related to issues around privilege, honour, and the fear of softness. This proprietorial legacy has influenced contemporary rationalities significantly. The key here is the power of appropriation.

Entitlement discourses and practices Entitlement is a galvanizing element in the dispositif of family violence in particular, and the dispositif of strongman politics in general. A sense of entitlement is driven by the loss of status and power. Or the threat of losing status and power. This is what Michael Kimmel (2019) refers to as “aggrieved entitlement” (Kimmel 2019: 18–21). Moreover, in analyzing the relation between gender and mass murder, Kalish and Kimmel (2010) describe aggrieved entitlement in this way: What transforms the aggrieved into mass murderers is also a sense of entitlement, a sense of using violence against others, making others hurt as you, yourself, might hurt. Aggrieved entitlement inspires revenge against those who have wronged you; it is the compensation for humiliation. Humiliation is emasculation: humiliate someone and you take away his manhood. (Kalish and Kimmel 2010: 454) This paper has been influential (e.g., Vito, Admire, and Hughes 2017). It articulates aspects of aggrievement, focusing on the issue of marginalization, because marginalization leads to humiliation and shame (cf.

54 The significance of entitlement feeling like a woman) and fear (cf. pre-empting loss of control). The issue here is not so much aggrievement, which is a problem, but the links between aggrievement and violence. Why do some aggrieved men, but not all, feel entitled to control or use violence? Kimmel connects entitlement to privilege, “that sense of being entitled is a marker not of depravation (sic) but of privilege” (Kimmel 2019: 24). In contrast, Larry Ray makes a good case to say the issue is more complicated than a crisis in masculinity (Ray 2018: 99–102). There are, of course, many factors. Nevertheless, the combination of fear, proprietorial thinking, and entitled gender patterns is critical. The term entitlement figures prominently in IPV research, literature, and practice. For example, researcher Elizabeth Gilchrist identifies “the issue of entitlement, control and sexual jealousy as important aspects of DA” (Gilchrist 2013: 163).4 In the same work, Nancy Lombard provides a summary statement of masculine gender patterns, which includes “physical prowess, protection, anger and entitlement” (Lombard 2013: 190). In another work, Nadia Aghtaie and Geetanjali Gangoli raise concerns about the risk of public debates on “lads ‘mags” reinforcing “gender roles and male entitlement over women’s bodies” (Aghtaie and Gangoli 2015: 13). In that study, Melanie McCarry also refers to “the ideology of male entitlement” (McCarry 2015: 107). Likewise, in exploring why IPV victims have reservations about the court system, Emma Williams concludes “this is a consequence of the notion of entitlement that perpetrators feel when they manipulate the current system to abuse women and children further” (Williamson 2015: 154). Of course, the term entitlement is used in other fields. Political theorist Jacqui True claims, and this bears repeating, that “gendered experiences and pervasive violence against women resulted in many men having a sense of entitlement to sexual services both inside and outside marriage after the war” (True 2012: 137). So, then, entitlement also figures prominently in war-conflict research. For instance, a sense of entitlement is regarded as symptomatic of militarized masculinity (Whitworth 2008: 110). David Duriesmith uses entitlement to describe violent acts, and to explain the nature of violence as the “abuses that characterise the conflict did not arise in a vacuum; rather they were a continuation of a gender system that validated men’s domination and entitlement” (Duriesmith 2017: 68, 98–99). Bonnie Mann also uses entitlement to explain the concept of sovereign masculinity in relation to the military (Mann 2014: 151–154). In an American context, she links entitlement and exceptionalism.5 In conclusion, entitlement is a recurring feature in the thinking, discourses, and practices of controlling and/or violent men. It is used in familial and military settings. Arguably, the genesis of entitlement is found in certain political rationalities, which inform and shape subject formation. Repeatedly, violent men, who enact controlling behaviour or violence, manifest an excessive sense of entitlement. So, what stems from learned behaviour, like the belief that I am entitled, becomes regarded as an

The significance of entitlement 55 inherited right. It is normalized. Violence can be regarded as a birthright. In other words, in their thinking, they have a natural right to be violent. By virtue of being entitled then, they have permission to be violent. By virtue of having permission, they are exonerated. In all, this is what I am calling the entitlement spiral, that is, I did the right thing (because I had the right to do it).

Using others as objects The key to this, and the following section, is the concept of proprietorial thinking. Before proceeding, however, it is important to clarify what has been established already. With controlling or violent subjects, the perpetrator feels entitled to feel entitled. In the name of entitlement, strategic, urgent, and pre-emptive measures are taken by the perpetrator to prevent the loss of entitlements, or to restore lost entitlements. Implicitly, the woman is regarded as a possession. So far, then, I have interpreted entitlement as a gender pattern. However, I use the concept of proprietorial thinking to explain how the entitlement gender pattern works in practice. In summary, political rationalities help form gender patterns that shape the subject formation of violent people. Acting out of inscribed gender patterns, perpetrators feel entitled to control or violate others. In terms of the binary logic, entitlement as a gender pattern reifies the male/female dyad by construing it as subject/object. This process emerges as a quasi-rights discourse, expressing possessiveness (e.g., my wife). In inverse relation, a sense of male entitlement increases as the value of female identity decreases. In the West, the entitlement gender pattern has its roots in the interrelated development of personal identity and private property (cf. proper, propriety, property). In time, proprietorial discourses resurface as formal and informal rightsdiscourse (cf., slavery). Critically, the strongman dispositif has a role in generating and sustaining proprietorial thinking at macro and micro levels. To appreciate entitlement as a gender pattern, it is important to recall that gender is a relational configuration. In other words, a sense of entitlement is worked out in relation to someone else. In particular, entitlement is fulfilled at the expense of another. In this context, entitlement is met, if and only if, the other is regarded as an object. In this sense, my personal identity is articulated at the expense of yours. In the process, the other is depersonalized. Of course, the issue of personal identity is complex. In everyday life, identity is partly about how I see myself (and others), and how others see us. But there is more to identity than the personal. This relates to the issue of what I am describing as proprietorial thinking. That is, personal identity is related to what is proper to me, and what is proper to me has personal (my person) and material connotations (my property). In a simple way, proprietorial thinking is about knowing (and appropriating) what is proper to me. Historically, my identity, my-self, and my-own are related.

56 The significance of entitlement

Proprietorial thinking I interpret entitlement as a gender pattern that shapes the subject formation of men, predisposing some men towards controlling behaviour and violence. This is a general or informal use of the term entitlement. Nonetheless, informal and formal discourses share common discursive roots around issues of personal identity, privacy, property, propriety, and power-relations. Slavery, for example, exemplifies the violent outworking of proprietorial thinking. Entitlement emerges in quasi-right discourses. In other words, entitlement discourses include an implied rights-claims, authorizing and justifying controlling behaviour and/or violent actions. This is compounded by the fact that there is something about rights discourse, even quasi-rights discourse, which has normative force. In fact, informal rights “may provide the grounds for subverting legal rights, and can legitimate male oppression even when official policy favors equality” (Stark 2007: 224). Moreover, “These ‘soft rights’ operate largely without notice and are often only articulated as entitlements when they are challenged or abrogated in some way” (Stark 2007: 225). Typically, entitlement discourses run like this: it is my right to use violence to defend my country. In fact, country and home are often linked in this regard, such as I’m defending my home by fighting for my country. These entitlements are often realized at the expense, and the rights, of others. With IPV, for example, “the micromanagement of how women perform as women lies at the heart of coercive control” (Stark 2013: 31). In the process, the other is treated as an object, like property (Glendon 1991, 31). In summary, a sense of entitlement is expressed as a form of rights discourse. The concept of right in this discourse is an informal and imagined right. I say imagined because quasi-rights, which are embedded in entitlement discourses, are taken-for-granted presumptions. So, the idea of treating a woman like a possession has a significant and complex history, which includes the emergence of proprietorial thinking. Mary Ann Glendon draws on John Locke to demonstrate the (unintended) consequences of rights talk (Glendon 1991: 20–22, 31). I take this connection then, and develop it further, as a way of theorizing entitlement. In terms of personal identity, for instance, the word proper has a sense of what is right, fitting, or appropriate for me in relation to others (SOED: 2379–2380). In Western history, the sense of what is proper evolved in relation to our understanding of human consciousness, and the appropriation of our thoughts, as well as property itself (cf. my self/my own). For example, my property is proper to me. Subsequently, it is part of the way I understand my identity. In that context, the proprietorial pertains to an awareness about what is mine, what is proper to me, which is part and parcel of how I see myself (and how I see others, and the world). In Locke’s thinking, for example, “the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has

The significance of entitlement 57 any right to but himself” (Locke 2007: 30). So, there is a merger here between property as a constitutive quality of a specific personal identity, and property as a material entity that is owned by the particular person (Balibar 2017: 74). That is, there is a fusion of the psychological and the material, under the banner of what is proper to me. In that context, this is the notion of identity as appropriation (Balibar 2013: 98). For Locke, this fusion, had a theological warrant because: The law of man was under, was rather for appropriating. God commanded, and his wants forced him to labour. That was his property which could not be taken from him where-ever he had fixed it. And hence subduing or cultivating the earth, and having dominion, we see are joined together. The one gave title to the other. So that God, by commanding to subdue, gave authority so far to appropriate: and the condition of human life, which requires labour and materials to work on, necessarily introduces private possessions. (Locke 2007: 35) This helps to explain what I mean by proprietorial thinking. However, there is a problem here, which has to do with the relationship between propriety and property. In that context, the use of the word fusion is not quite right, because propriety and property are different. But they are related, and this has to do with “the power of appropriation” (Balibar 2014: 77). The point is that, certainly in English-speaking communities, an inherent power of appropriation has led to the construal of identity in terms of appropriation. This is identity as appropriation. In practice, important distinctions are distorted and exploited. In IPV, for example, the perpetrator’s blurring of the line between my life and my wife is a serious problem. It is a perverse example of the power of appropriation. Subsequently, the terms proper, propriety, and property, and their conflation, became part of modern Western thinking, shaping discursive formations, generating political rationalities, influencing gender patterns and subject formation. Excessive entitlement then is an expression of proprietorial thinking.

I stole what is mine At the personal level of analysis, I am concentrating on the impact on women. With a perpetrator, in a particular instance of coercive control or a violent action, there is a range of pertinent psychological factors (e.g., shame, fear, and rage) and behaviours (e.g., narcissistic projection; cf. insecure attachment style). The focus, however, is the effect of entitlement, and the inclination to resort to violence against a woman, who is treated like an object or property (my wife). In the spirit of Locke, gender-based violence denies women’s rights to self-ownership.

58 The significance of entitlement The sense of entitlement of a male subject over a female object, which can be played out in different ways, has a complex legacy. In general, there are legitimate entitlements, human, legal, and otherwise. In particular, however, there is an ethical issue here, about exercising entitlement over others as though they were property. Historically, a way of thinking about identity in relation to others developed in the West with long-term gender and racial implications, for instance, in “a normalizing society, race or racism is the precondition that makes killing [or unlawful detention] acceptable” (Foucault 2003g: 256). Moreover, the fusion of proper and property, with the emergence of proprietorial thinking, is writ large over white European colonialism. In this context, Robert Nichols (2020) explores the dispossession of indigenous peoples from their land. In the process, he introduces the concept of “recursive dispossession” (Nichols 2020: 8), which reflects something of the logic of entitlement. In my words, then, I interpret Nichols’ recursive dispossession as I stole what is mine, and because it is mine, it is not theft. So, dispossession “transforms nonproprietary relations into propriety ones while, at the same time, systematically transferring control and title of this (newly formed) property” (Nichols 2020: 8). Recursive dispossession is effectively “a form of property-generating theft” (Nichols 2020: 9). His notion of recursive dispossession reflects something of the logic of genderbased violence. That is, I stole what is mine, and because it is mine, it is not theft. The point here is that an excessive sense of entitlement, which expresses itself in a proprietorial attitude towards the other, surfaces in relation to indigenous communities, and slavery, as well as gender-based violence. For example, “as property, the dispossessed body of the enslaved is the surrogate for the master’s body since it guarantees his disembodied universality and acts as the sign of his power and dominion” (Hartman 1997: 6). In conclusion, the excessive sense of entitlement associated with genderbased violence is a form of proprietorial thinking. In terms of violence, a sense of entitlement is a predisposition towards violence expressed as a quasi-right. Moreover, it is part of what I am describing as the dispositif of violence. This represents an amalgam of elements including proprietorial thinking, privilege, honour, fear, and shame, all of which have prefigured and permeated contemporary rationalities, discourses, and practices. Moreover, discourses advocating my right, or I have a right to, contribute to and reinforce the pervasive sense of entitlement. Entitlement, then, is a galvanizing element in the dispositif of violence. Entitlement, with other elements, generates the violent production and justification of gender inequality. So, then, entitlement discourse entails a demand for the fulfillment of quasi-rights, couched in terms like rightful, right, marital (conjugal) right, honour, one’s due, privilege, prerogative, possession, and a liberal use of the first-person possessive pronoun. In this vein, it is my house, my car, my wife, my gun, my country, and, of course, my right. It can also be expressed in different ways, like the Brexit slogan, “We will control our country again” (Brown 2018: 25).

The significance of entitlement 59 Significantly, entitlement speech has a performative element, because “the assertion of a right both functions to remake and contest relations with others but at the same time establishes a particular relation to, and conception of, the rights holder herself” (Golder 2015: 57). As entitlement discourse has a performative dimension, violence is authorized and exonerated by virtue of the utterance of this right. In this sense, excessive entitlement can then be regarded as “practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak” (Foucault 1972: 49). To reiterate, this is not the refined rights discourse of the philosopher or ethicist, but the inaugurating, self-authorizing rhetoric of offender, perpetrator, combatant, warlord, prime minister, president, or strongman. In practice, the rights discourse of entitlement represents an unrestricted, often violent, expression of sovereignty. So, entitlement discourse is more like a politics of rights than a rights theory. Clearly, entitlement is not the only element in military and familial dispositifs, but it has a galvanizing effect on other factors by virtue of its power to incline, authorize, and exonerate.

The strategic and urgent defence of entitlement The purpose of this section is to explore the military and family dispositifs of violence. This involves several factors. First, it hinges on identifying the urgent needs that are encompassed by them, and the strategic steps that are taken in order to fulfill those needs. The significant factor here is the fear of losing, or failing to acquire, power and status. This is important in terms of understanding the nature of entitlement. Second, this fear of losing or not acquiring status is a powerful force in military and family settings. It lies behind the importance of male bonds. Ironically, at the heart of the entitled man is an ambivalence towards other men. Third, these bonds, and needs, are powerful, predisposing entitled men towards violence. Fourth, fear plays a significant role in this, and needs to be explored. So, here is an overview. In a dispositif, “the system of relations” is not arbitrary. It is a strategic response to an “urgent need” (Foucault 1980b: 195). IPV can be construed as a dispositif with its own strategic and urgent dimensions. The threat of losing, or the loss, of power and status, creates a sense of urgency to maintain, restore, or increase power and status through violence. So, strategic intent is a factor in IPV, especially when the issue of control is considered. Moreover, violence frequently stems from impeded control as “data suggest that abuse is typically a chronic rather than an acute problem, that the pattern is the appropriate target for assessment and intervention, not a discrete episode” (Stark 2013: 19). In this regard, Evan Stark’s concept of coercive control is pertinent, as compliance “with ‘rules’ that extend to the trivia of daily life makes abusive men appear omnipotent and women like nothing” (Stark 2013: 31). Strategic intent is an integral part of the gender pattern, and coercive control is “a strategic course of self-interested

60 The significance of entitlement behavior designed to secure and expand gender-based privilege by establishing a regime of domination in personal life” (Stark 2013: 21). Coercive control “involves rational, instrumental behavior” working strategically and encompassing “the unique tactical combination an individual abuser deploys in a given relationship. Rooted in the privileged access intimacy affords to personal information about a partner” (Stark 2013: 21). Coercive control is a punitive form of micromanagement, ranging from stalking to surveillance. Moreover, new “digital technologies complicate the spaces of family violence in many ways. On the one hand, technology can be used to empower women to seek their own information and safety, but, on the other, technology presents new dangers for women living in or leaving abusive relationships” (Maher, McCulloch, and Fitz-Gibbon 2019: 25).

The brotherhood The idea of brotherhood is important here as it reveals the intersubjective nature of the development of excessive entitlement. In a recent interview, Judith Butler remarked: I am no longer sure what counts as performative, but my view is that one reason that men feel free to dispose of women’s life as they see fit is because they are bound to one another through a silent (or not-sosilent) pact of brotherhood. They look the other way; they give each other permission and grant each other impunity. In so many places, the violence done to women, including murder, are not even conceptualized as crimes. They are ‘the way of the world’ or ‘acts of passion’ and these phrases disclose deep-seated attitudes that have naturalized violence against women, that is, made it seem as if this violence is a natural or normal part of ordinary life. (Butler 2019) The task here is not to exegete Butler’s assessment, but rather, to use the notion of brotherhood as a touchtone for comparing squads and families. However, reliably classifying complex phenomenon like war or domestic violence is a difficult task. For a start, war is not a discrete entity. So, I use the term of war-conflict, indicating a broad continuum. Likewise, making a reliable comparison between military and familial dispositifs is a complicated task. Clearly, there are major differences, especially at the cultural (macro) level of analysis. However, at the personal (micro) level of analysis, that is, at the level of small groups and individuals, of squads and families, there are commonalities. I also use Malešević’s concept of microsolidarity to understand the ambivalent brotherhood of men. To begin, violent masculinities, “are usually collectively defined and/or institutionally supported, whether in informal peer groups (youth ‘gangs’),

The significance of entitlement 61 formal armies, or groups somewhere in between… Most violence is not a matter of individual pathology” (Connell 2000: 217). Malešević (2010, 2017) is aware of the collective nature of these things. In his study of war and violence, he attributes the prime motivation of soldiers, not to nationalism, but to “micro-level group solidarity”, which exists typically in squads (Malešević 2010: 202, 220). This solidarity is like kinship. It entails developing a sense of groupness (Malešević 2017: 290, 307). In Australia, we would talk about the bonds of “mateship”. In the United States, the military invests money to develop a “buddy system” (Malešević 2017: 301). It is like a brotherhood. Indeed, there is something powerful about this microsolidarity that binds and sustains small groups of soldiers (Malešević 2017: 167–168). This groupness is “defined by one’s sense of emotional and cognitive attachments” (Malešević 2017: 291). Certainly, there are other binding factors like a shared narrative (Malešević 2017: 288). Likewise, Bonnie Mann (2014) has recognized the importance of “homosocial bonds” (Mann 2014: 179). In Duriesmith’s case, he articulated grounds for understanding the importance of staking claims for group membership, with its initiations, and the premium placed on loyalty (Duriesmith 2017: 31, 58). But this often entails control, abuse, and violence, in order to break down the resistance of new recruits. For example, the purpose of “ritualistic admission to masculine groups is to establish a dichotomy between those who are admitted and those who are not” (Duriesmith 2017: 33). This partly explains the ambivalent feeling of the entitled man, as there are just as many internal threats as there are external enemies. So, this (mutual) concern is what binds military squads together. At the same time, however, it underlines the constant threat of failure to improve status, or to address the loss of status, as a source of shame for a man before his peers. In this context, the normative force of entitlement discourse is amplified.

What is at stake? Pre-emption and the fear of losing entitlements In practice, something substantial is at stake with entitlement, which means violence is strategic and urgent, implicitly or explicitly, in two ways. First, even so-called impulsive acts of violence are usually part of a pattern of controlling behaviour. Violence, in this instance, may be instinctive, but the underlying controlling behaviour is implicitly strategic in terms of getting his needs met (e.g., fear of losing control). Second, there is a high degree of strategic thinking, for example, in the use of electronic equipment for complete, constant, and long-term surveillance. Subsequently, I examine David Duriesmith’s work to understand better the strategic and urgent nature of violence, that is, what is at stake? Admittedly, there are differences between military and familial violence, which are scalar and contextual (chapter 2), but there are important connections and common elements too.

62 The significance of entitlement Duriesmith (2017) studies the so-called new wars in Sierra Leone (1991–2002) and South Sudan (1991–2005). He acknowledges ethnic, cultural, and religious differences between the two cases. Nonetheless, in Sierra Leone and South Sudan, the practices of violence “are the product of gendered logics, mirroring its scripts of masculinity and femininity, and serve to produce these logics by reinforcing their structural conditions” (Duriesmith 2017: 24). Specifically, violence in both cases “serves as a mechanism for subordinate men to stake a claim to masculine authority and privilege, while reinforcing the collective hegemony of men as a group” (Duriesmith 2017: 30). Duriesmith then is concerned about how to define the so-called new wars, or what he describes as “the ‘new’ forms of lowintensity conflict that have come into prominence in recent decades” (Duriesmith 2017: 1). He argues that the new wars do not represent “a stark break from the previous forms of violence” but instead, “the developments of low-intensity and high-brutality tactics are a product of masculine logics which exist within patriarchal constructions of masculinity” (Duriesmith 2017: 2). Of course, compared to so-called traditional wars, there are other differences (e.g., non-state, global south). In terms of masculine gender patterns, however, there are recurring elements like militarism, group membership, emotional detachment, aggression, and bravado. (Duriesmith 2017: 25, 30). He concludes that the key issues surround attempts to gain power and enhance status. In other words, the “core cause of conflict in both cases was a struggle between groups of men over the dominant position in a patriarchal hierarchy” (Duriesmith 2017: 115). The new wars are about groups of men, motivated by old gender patterns, finding new ways to acquire power and improve status through “the culture of violent masculinity” (Duriesmith 2017: 126). Duriesmith admits that, in both cases, he is dealing with “a dynamic, multi-levelled analysis of masculinities” (Duriesmith 2017: 20). Moreover, there are “multiple logics behind different forms of sexual violence” (Duriesmith 2017: 53). But in both cases, Sierra Leone and South Sudan, the violence is “a product of masculine logics” (Duriesmith 2017: 2). Moreover, other studies echo something of Duriesmith’s findings about the logics (rationalities) of entitled masculinity. In northern Phillipines, for example, there is “the intersection of violence and masculinity among the Bugkalot” (Mikkelsen and Søgaard 2017: 94). The researchers argue here that “displays of transgression and male violent potentiality serve to construct a specific version of hegemonic masculinity” (Mikkelsen and Søgaard 2017: 97). With headhunting, the focus is not on the person as victim, but on the cut (pámotok) as an enactment of masculinity. So, gender is enacted. It is critical for mento-men relationships. It represents a construction of masculine identity through “situational performances of violent potentiality” (Mikkelsen and Søgaard 2017: 96–97).6

The significance of entitlement 63 In summary, entitlement is embodied and articulated in practice, in various ways, depending on person and context. In the neoliberal age, this is reinforced by the climate of fear and the culture of risk. Clearly, entitled masculinity is a common element in military and familial dispositifs. For example, in Emma Williamson’s study on male heterosexual victims of DV, victims struggled with not feeling like “a real man” (Williamson 2015: 153). Similarly, in Duriesmith’s study, male perpetrators of violence were motivated by what it meant to be “a big man” (Duriesmith 2017: 40ff). In Melanie McCarry’s study of young men, she aimed to explore “the gendered dimension of violence and abuse in young people’s relationships and draw upon the literature and empirical data on male gender behaviour and masculinity to emphasize that masculinity and the use of violence are inherently enmeshed” (McCarry 2015: 98). She used two empirical studies, focusing on Scotland, but also some work in the United Kingdom. Subsequently, she concluded that many young men regard violence against women as acceptable behaviour (McCarry 2015: 96). They also exhibited “controlling behaviours” and “recurring patterns of violence” (McCarry 2015: 98, 102). The concept of entitlement then is an integral element in military and familial dispositifs. Entitlement is an expression of a certain kind of masculinity, which develops and implements various strategies, pre-empting threats to power and status. Curiously, the entitled man has ambivalent feelings about other men. On the one hand, the entitled man is the locus of sovereignty. On the other hand, the entitled man worries about the approval of other men. Positively, this regard binds military squads together (i.e., microsolidarity). Negatively, a failure to improve status, or the loss of status, is a source of shame and a loss of face before peers. So, concern about attaining or maintaining power and status, in relation to other men, is critical. Collectively, fear is a powerful source of motivation here. The problem of fear concerns mutual regard, loss of status, loss of face, and the problem of shame. All this is reinforced in the neoliberal climate of instrumental rationality making those, who do not measure up, expendable.

Made to feel like a woman In all this, fear is a major factor. The quintessential fear is the prospect of being made to feel like a woman. A young Iraqui Dhia Al-Shweiri, for example, was tortured by US operatives at Abu Ghraib prison, “It’s OK if they beat me. Beatings don’t hurt us, it’s just a blow. But no one would want their manhood to be shattered… They wanted us to feel as though we were women, the way women feel and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman” (Mann 2014: ix). But let me put this in perspective. Fear has a central but complex place in entitled masculinity. On the one hand, the entitled man needs no one, and fears no one. He is self-sufficient. On the other, he must be vigilant, pre-empting threats, real and imaginary.

64 The significance of entitlement The archetypal fear is the prospect of being made to feel like a woman. This is his Achilles heel. It is about the humiliating loss, or potential loss, of power. Equally, it can be the failure to gain power. Historically, this fear has been reinforced by two interrelated and coalescing elements, that is, a fear of and contempt for softness (i.e., effeminacy) and the emergence of proprietorial thinking, discourses, and practices. Intriguingly, the entitled man has ambivalent feelings towards other men, partly because there is a deep attraction (i.e., homosocial), but also, because of a pervasive abhorrence of homosexuals (and/or women). In fact, in “military institutions there has run a deep fear of homosexuality and homoeroticism” (Duriesmith 2017: 37). However, there is a nagging doubt here, that is, there is in fact no sharp line between the homosocial and the homoerotic. So, these ambivalent feelings bind us together and drive us apart. Forth’s study of masculinity then provides some historical perspective (Forth 2008). From 1700, Forth looks at various themes in history, focusing on “the male body itself” (Forth 2008: 6). For Forth, the male body is a source of normative masculinity, but it is not a stable source. In fact, the relationship between the male body and masculinity is complex, ambiguous, and subject to change. (Forth 2008: 5). The key to understanding this is “the double logic of modern civilization”, which yearns to be the wild man or warrior. This is what Forth refers to as “warrior manhood” (Forth 2008: 27). But the same warrior is fearful of softness. In a different context, and as a strategic goal, Veena Das examines how Sikh militancy cast itself as masculine and the Hindus as feminine (Das 2007: 112). Furthermore, in the West, softness has been associated with effeminacy, implying “a penchant for sensual pleasures and refined manners that had little practical or ideological value for the warrior” (Forth 2008: 33). This raises the ambiguous overlap between the homosocial and homoerotic. In Forth, then, the male body anchors and destabilizes masculinity. The process generates a series of binaries like hard-masculinity/soft-civilization, rough/refined, authentic/effeminate, martial manhood/sensual-indulgence, nomad/sedentary, activity/ sedentariness, and manliness/effeminacy (Forth 2008: 15, 28, 33–39).7 In terms of the cultural level of analysis, there is a certain kind of thinking or pre-thinking, that is, there is a rationality that underlies familial and military violence. The key is not something inherent like so-called male aggression. Instead, it is about rationalities generating subjectivities and practices of domination conducive to violent action. This rationality “upholds gender practices of violence” (Oksala 2012: 77). So, gender “is not external to violence but can structure the core characteristics of the event that is a kind of social relationship between perpetrator and victim” (Walby et al. 2017: 42–43). It is driven by a historic mistrust of the other, symbolized by softness, evoking shame that can be converted to violence. Rights-claiming then is about the right to act violently, out of fear, without accountability. There are other factors like inequality, and race, and but a sense of entitlement is a galvanizing factor predisposing, permitting, and

The significance of entitlement 65 exonerating acts of violence. So, what is the point of softness here? In a war zone, the aim is to make the enemy appear or feel soft. It is humiliating (Féron 2018: 50–51). The humiliation is characterized by shame. Mann illustrates how shame, and the rage it provokes, spirals into violence, as “the shamed one’s shame converts to rage, hostility, contempt, aggression” (Mann 2014: 116). In terms of power and status, manhood is aspirational, but it comes at a price. In an interview, a soldier laments “We did what we did because it was war, and in war you have to do what is needed. I have had bad dreams, sometimes I cannot sleep at all. I am asking myself ‘Did God want this? Did he want to test me?’ I don’t know, but I am not proud of myself” (Féron 2018: 88). In summation, this chapter has theorized entitlement. It achieves this by comparing familial and military dispositifs. This involves addressing several elements, including the relationship between political rationalities and violent subjectivities. For example, IPV does not occur in isolation. In fact, micro-expressions of violence, like IPV, are informed by macro factors. More broadly, political rationalities generate gender patterns and attendant entitlement discourses and practices. In that context, power-relations shape subject formation, manifesting in discourse and practices, which are embodied in terms like my house, my wife, or my country. In this approach, the concept of dispositif means constitutive elements cannot be clinically divided. Traditionally, “explanations have privileged the individual as the unit of analysis, as opposed to the institutional, collective and/or structural” (Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate 2018: 129). It is a complex system, with entitlement, proprietorial thinking, the power of appropriation, fear and shame, objectification and othering, interacting at personal and cultural levels. These issues raise questions about the prospect of change. Specifically, can violent subjects change? In chapter 5, I articulate my theology of transformation, testing it out in chapter 6 at personal and cultural levels. In order to get there, however, and to clarify my position, it is important to consider divergent trajectories of transformation in chapter 4.

Notes 1 For practitioner Bancroft (2003: 54), entitlement is “the abuser’s belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to his partner. The attitudes that drive abuse can largely be summarized by this one word”. This is a work designed for the broader or popular market, but it has been written by a domestic violence (DV) practitioner and has useful insights. 2 RMIT University’s Lee Parker made this observation to me in passing. 3 Downing (2013: 1–2) explores how the “murderers are seen as an exceptional type of subject by our culture”. The problem is that such “discourses, by highlighting the exceptionality of the ‘individual,’ effectively silence gender-aware, class-based analyses about murder”.

66 The significance of entitlement 4 DA stands for domestic abuse, this term is an attempt to broaden the scope of the term domestic violence. 5 In exploring the psychology of sovereign masculinity, Mann uses Kalish and Kimmel’s aggrieved entitlement. 6 Dasgupta (2017: 233): “Once we recognize that violence against the female arises from deeper and historically entrenched convictions about gender roles and intergender relationships, which are similar to religious dogmas… the conventions and difficulties with prevention become obvious. It becomes apparent that, to prevent violence against women and girls, there needs to be a fundamental paradigm shift and significant resocialization in new egalitarian cultural values, beliefs, and practices”. 7 Forth’s binaries resemble Bourdieu’s dominant schemes of perception (2001), for example, top/bottom, hard/soft, straight/curved, dry/wet, up/down, above/below, dry/moist, hot/cold, active/passive, and mobile/immobile.

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4

Foucault, Confession, and Transformation

Overview So far, the concept and practice of entitlement has been developed in relation to familial and military settings. Subsequently, I interpret entitlement as a gender pattern, characterized by proprietorial thinking, which has an important role in subject formation, predisposing some men towards controlling and/or violent behaviour. A sense of entitlement is often expressed as quasi-rights discourse, like she is my wife or this is my country. So, in response to the problem of violence, the issue here is the question of transformation. In this chapter, I consider three interrelated trajectories of transformation. In broad terms, the trajectories relate to the church, Foucault, and my own work. In places, these trajectories overlap, but they have different premises, and they head in different directions. Subsequently, the purpose of this comparison is to prefigure something of the distinctiveness of my approach to the concept of transformation. The distinctiveness resides, in part, in the way I use and develop the concept of desubjectivation. This is spelt out in the final section of the present chapter, which prepares the way for the development of my theology of transformation in chapter 5, and its application in chapter 6. Here is a precis of the three trajectories. First, historically, there is a negative trajectory in the church, which embodies pessimistic anthropological assumptions, placing a premium on church discipline. In this trajectory, transformation is an ongoing task of obedience and purification. The transformation is largely functional. It is about maintaining church order. This reading is based on Foucault’s critique, which is focused on his examination of churches in the premodern Latin West. Of course, Foucault’s examination was subservient to his wider interest in the development of the modern (Western) subject. Second, Foucault sets out to develop an alternative trajectory of transformation to the church by examining Greek, Roman, and Hellenistic spiritual practices. This trajectory represents a secular construal of transformation. It has a more optimistic view of humankind. So, instead of confession for the sake of the confessor, Foucault is interested in truthDOI: 10.4324/9780429273520-4

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 71 telling for the sake of the subject. His notion of transformation is ontological. It is about the subject’s very being. But the meaning of this transformation is not entirely clear, as Foucault seems in two minds about the language of transformation. Third, this is my trajectory. It is a religious trajectory. It has an optimistic view of humankind, which is held in tension with suffering and the problem of violence. As such, transformation has a place in church order (cf. sacraments), but church order is not its raison d’etre. This trajectory entails the ontological transformation of the person, here and now. Transformation is an experience of desubjectivation, which is a limit experience, entailing both transgressing boundaries and crossing thresholds. At the personal level, we encounter a limit-experience. At the cultural level, the limit-experience is a performative event. We enact and embody the limit-experience in the political realm as resistance.

A critique of premodern churches in the Latin West With his critique of Christian renunciation, Foucault concentrates on churches in Latin West, from the second to the sixteenth centuries.1 He does not speak for all the premodern churches (cf., Slavonic churches). For Foucault, renunciation had become an end in itself in Christian ascetic practices. In contrast, Hellenistic ascetic practices were part of a process of self-transformation. Nevertheless, the distinction between these two sets of practices is complex. The distinction can be overstated. Horujy (2015: 12–15), for example, criticizes Foucault for his bifurcation of Hellenistic and Christian practices. But I suspect that Foucault himself overstated the difference, which becomes apparent in relation to his thinking about transformation. An issue like conversion, for example, lends itself to multiple readings. In terms of Foucault’s critique of the church then, there are two major themes. First, according to Foucault, the church’s penitential practices transitioned from a demonstration in public to a verbal account in private, that is, from truth-doing to truth-telling (Foucault 2021: 78). Schematically, I am referring to this as the shift, which is “the correlative shrinking of the status of ‘truthdoing’ compared to truth-telling” (Foucault 2021: 294). Figuratively, the shift is like moving from wearing sackcloth and ashes in the public square to disclosing the secrets of the heart in private with a confessor. Technically, it is the difference between exomologesis as “a kind of public manifestation” and exagoreusis as “an analytical and continuous verbalization of the thoughts” (Foucault 2016: 73). In contrast, Robert Meens (2014: 11) also focuses on penance in the churches of the premodern Latin West.2 However, Meens argues that there were different penitential practices and patterns, even in the late antique Christian world. In other words, this suggests that the shift from truth-doing to truth-telling is not as uniform as Foucault implied.3 In fact, after assessing multiple sources, Meens concludes “many more or less formal

72 Foucault, Confession, and transformation ways of doing penance existed, and it seems hard to believe that in the late antique Christian world, where diversity was the norm and unity mostly a rhetorical construction, only a single approved method for dealing with sin existed” (Meens 2014: 15). Moreover, in the Eastern Orthodox churches of that period, Kharkhordin (1999) demonstrates that public penance continued to be used widely (Kharkhordin 1999: 69). In fact, “The practice of imposing penance by decisions of ecclesiastical courts in the Eastern Church flourished until the fall of Byzantium in 1453” (Kharkhordin 1999: 67). Compared to the Latin West, private confession was not as significant in churches of the East (Kharkhordin 1999: 68). Second, the church’s culture of obedience, and the individual’s internalizing of the value of obedience, shaped the development of modern governmentality. Implicitly, this entailed a renunciation of the will. However, Foucault claims this was not a renunciation of the will per se, but instead, this was the penitent’s adoption of the will of the confessor (Foucault 2014b: 134). Furthermore: I’d like to underline a transformation of those practices, a transformation which took place at the beginning of the Christian era, of the Christian period, when the ancient obligation of knowing oneself became the monastic precept “confess, to your spiritual guide, each of your thoughts” This transformation is, I think, of some importance in the genealogy of modern subjectivity. With this transformation starts what we could call the hermeneutics of the self. (Foucault 2016: 27) Foucault’s interest in Christian renunciation has two aspects. First, as a contrast, it is a means of articulating his construal of spiritual exercises and spiritualty. Second, it is part of a more substantial project regarding the development of subjectivity and modern governmentality. In other words, these concerns frame his use of Christian resources, and in particular, his reasons for concentrating largely on premodern churches of the Latin West.

A sense of obligation Foucault’s lecture series On the Government of the Living (2014a) is formative. In the lectures, he intends to explore how, “the relations between the government of men, the manifestation of the truth in the form of subjectivity, and the salvation of each and all been established in our civilization?” (Foucault 2014a: 75). Specifically, he declares his interest in “the manifestation of truth in the form of subjectivity” (Foucault 2014a: 80). His interpretation of Christianity plays an important role in all this. In Foucault, subjectivity and truth are entwined. As his work develops then, he becomes increasingly interested in “the manifestation of the truth in the form of subjectivity” (Foucault 2014a: 75). For Foucault, truth is not

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 73 a metaphysical absolute, but instead, it is discovered in and excavated from specific historical settings.4 Moreover, he is intrigued by two interrelated aspects of truth, first, “the force we accord truth”, and second, how “Western man bound himself to the obligation to manifest in truth what he himself is?” (Foucault 2014a: 101) This sense of obligation to disclose the truth of our lives is critical for Foucault’s reading of Western subjectivity. Foucault attributes this sense of obligation to the impact of Christianity. Fundamentally, this is where the cult of confession, in premodern churches of the Latin West, is internalized and normalized in modern subjectivity. For Foucault truth, truth acts, regimes of truth, and the history of truth, bear witness to this sense of obligation, for example, “a regime of truth is that which determines the obligations of individuals with regard to procedures of manifestations of truth” (Foucault 2014a: 93). So, Western subjectivity has been shaped by Christianity. But fear has also been part of the Christian legacy. Indeed, fear about oneself is “anchored in Christianity from the turn of the second and third century and will obviously be of absolutely decisive importance in the whole history of what we may call subjectivity” (Foucault 2014a: 127–128).5 In Foucault, then, Tertullian plays a role in this process. The issue here was the development of second (canonical) penance, which emerged as a response to the fear of being stained by sin committed after baptism. The stain was caused by the devil within. For Tertullian, then, second penance represented a singular opportunity as the “poisons of his (the devil’s), therefore, God foresaw, and although the gate of forgiveness has been shut and fastened with the bar of baptism, He has permitted some means of access” (Tertullian 1957: 186). The underlying fear shaped “relationships of subjectivity and the truth, not only in Christianity, but in the whole of Western civilization” (Foucault 2014a: 194). So, second penance played a role in fostering a sense of obligation to reveal, and justify, the truth of ourselves. A qualification, however, needs to be made regarding the shift. Public penance, for example, “never completely disappeared in the early period, continued to be practised throughout the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries” (Meens 2014: 215–216). Foucault is right to emphasize a discernible pattern, however, diversity in practice persisted. Unfortunately, many scholars accept Foucault’s construal of the shift at face value, without conducting a critical evaluation of his selection and use of primary sources (e.g., Lemke 2019: 300–306). In the long run, there are various ways of interpreting and practicing penance. Be that as it may, Foucault has identified an important trajectory in the West, which I am describing schematically as the shift. The shift encompasses a long-term and complex transition in penitential practice from a public demonstration to a private confession focused on verbalizing sinful (impure) thoughts.6 These discursive practices internalize penitential rituals, essentialize the nature of sin, and reinforce the sense of obligation to confess and to obey. Interpreting thoughts then is integral to

74 Foucault, Confession, and transformation the process, “What Christianity invented – what it introduced, I believe, into ancient culture, - was this principle of a veridiction of the self through a hermeneutics of thought” (Foucault 2014b: 152). Veridiction is Foucault’s neologism, basically, it is the act or a mode of speaking by which a speaker speaks the truth, and is recognized also by others as speaking the truth (McGushin 2007: 8–10). Compared to Hellenistic practices “Christian examination of conscience brings with it, I believe, quite different effects of knowledge and quite different modes of subjectivation” (Foucault 2014a: 236). Foucault emphasizes obligations that came into bold relief under the influence of monasticism.7 The obligations are “to obey in everything and to hide nothing”, all of which inform “what constitutes Christian and, as a result, Western subjectivity” (Foucault 2014a: 266). In this context, Foucault infers that “this linkage between production of truth and renunciation of self seems to be to me what could be called the schema of Christian subjectivity” (Foucault 2014a: 309). In conclusion, Foucault is interested in Western subjectivity. Subsequently, he concentrates on the thinking, discourses, and practices of premodern churches in the Latin West. His aim, however, is not to provide a history of the church. Instead, Foucault underlines the importance of obedience in the West. For example, Christian (spiritual) direction formed a dispositif of obedience (Foucault 2014a: 289). Certainly, there were other Christian discourses and practices, and he highlights the mystics in this regard. But obedience was imperative. Eventually, the culture of obedience and the practice of confession conspired to produce an internalized sense of obligation to disclose the truth by externalizing thoughts. So, the aim of the examination of conscience was to clarify one’s thoughts by externalizing, and so avowal becomes increasingly important, “It was no longer a question of telling one’s every thought, nor of demonstrating one’s state as a sinner. Rather, it was a question of verbally responding to a questionnaire that was defined by preestablished grids” (Foucault 2014b: 188). And this rings true. In this frame, renunciation is symptomatic of the culture of obedience. In the West, renunciation was an obligatory end, in a pessimistic process. Pessimistic, that is, in terms of prevailing anthropology (cf. mortification of the flesh). Foucault concludes that Christian asceticism, “always refers to a certain renunciation of the self and of reality because most of the time your self is a part of that reality you have to renounce in order to get access to another level of reality” (Foucault 1988b: 35). Consequently, this pessimistic construal of renunciation represents a punitive anthropological trajectory in the history of the church in the West and also Western subjectivity.

Foucault and transformation Foucault compares Christian and Hellenistic ascetic practices for several reasons. First, Christianity was influenced by Hellenistic practices.8 Second,

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 75 there are similarities between Christianity and Hellenistic ascetic practices, like spiritual direction. In Christianity, however, its cult of obedience changed the nature of the relationship with the spiritual director. In Christianity, obedience to the spiritual director was an end in itself. However, the aim of Hellenistic ascetic practices was to foster maturity and autonomy. Third, the negative reading of renunciation that emerged from Christianity played a role in the development of Western subjectivity, fostering confessional thinking, discourses, and practices. In so doing, it contributed to and strengthened modern governmentality’s totalizing/ individualizing powers. Finally, the concept of transformation is critical. For Foucault, transformation involves a reworking and re-creation of the self. In this process, we take ourselves as the project, reflecting, discerning, and enacting. This transformation is about concrete changes in our mode of life. In analyzing the concrete, its changes, and its fractures, we begin to discern an ontology of ourselves, whereby: The critical ontology of ourselves must be considered not, certainly, as a theory, a doctrine, nor even as a permanent body of knowledge that is accumulating; it must be conceived as an attitude, an ethos, a philosophical life in which the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them [de leur franchissement possible]. (Foucault 2003b: 56) This is about transformation. Clearly, Foucault is not thinking of transformation in functionalist terms. This is why the expression “an ontology of ourselves” is important. By ontology, moreover, he is not thinking of reverting to metaphysical theories. Nevertheless, the nature of what Foucault means by transformation is not entirely clear. But he provides some clues around the idea of experimenting, that is, testing and crossing over limits. I pursue these ideas in the final section of this chapter. In terms of understanding Foucault’s concept of transformation, the lecture series The Hermeneutics of the Subject (2005a) is important. So, I will make some distinctions in order to put the series into context. First, Foucault distinguishes between spirituality and philosophy, even though spirituality is informed by philosophy. Second, this spirituality, with its roots in Greco-Roman traditions and practices, is different from Christian spirituality. They overlap as Christianity is a recipient of many of these traditions and practices. The differences, however, surround issues like the construal of the self, conversion, and renunciation. Third, transformation, as self-transformation, is an integral part of spirituality changing “the subject’s very being” (Foucault 2005a: 15).9 Furthermore, the series builds on his work in The Care of the Self, where he refers to the “cultivation of the self” (Foucault 1988a: 43).

76 Foucault, Confession, and transformation In the lecture series The Hermeneutics of the Subject (2005a) Foucault identifies three moments in the genealogy of self-transformation: • •



The Socratic-Platonic moment and the appearance of epimeleia heatou (care of the self) The first and second centuries of the common era (“the golden age of the culture of the self”), which correlates with the beginnings of Christianity (Foucault 2005a: 30) The transition in the fourth and fifth centuries from “pagan philosophical ascesis to Christian asceticism” (Foucault 2005a: 30)

Foucault claims “The question I would like to take up this year is this: In what historical form do the relations between the ‘subject’ and ‘truth,’ elements that do not usually fall within the historian’s practice or analysis, take shape in the West?” (Foucault 2005a: 2) Ancient practices of the self are central to this endeavour. For Foucault, these practices incorporate an important bond between care of the self (epimeleia heautou) and know yourself (gnothi seauton) (Foucault 2005a: 3, 67). Eventually, the tie was broken. Foucault uses the term the Cartesian moment to describe the break, because the “transition from spiritual exercise to intellectual method is obviously very clear in Descartes” (Foucault 2005a: 294). The Cartesian moment is a “conversion of the knowledge of spirituality into the knowledge of intellectual knowledge” (Foucault 2005a: 309). During the Enlightenment, the care of the self was separated from knowledge, and now the truth cannot save us. The key for Foucault is to reclaim the value and the practice of what it means to care for the self. Care of the self, however, was multilayered, understood “as a notion, practice, and institution” (Foucault 2005a: 82). Care of the self was considered a life-long obligation, incorporating training and knowledge (Foucault 2005a: 87, 94). Interestingly, it “always entails a choice of one’s mode of life” (Foucault 2005a: 113). In other words, we are accountable for our self-transformation. Significantly, Foucault has been criticized for focusing too much on the individual. This is partly true, however, there is an implied sense of the importance of the other in Foucault, for example, the other “is indispensable for the practice of the self to arrive at the self at which it aims” (Foucault 2005a: 127). In his personal life, moreover, Foucault was actively concerned about the other, and this included the mentally ill, inmates in French prisons, revolutionaries in Iran, and workers in Poland. In the long run, the theme of care has a role in his understanding of transformation, which leads us to his examination of conversion (epistrophe) and repentance (metanoia). Foucault makes a distinction between a Hellenistic view of conversion (epistrophe) and a Christian view of repentance (metanoia). That is, between conversion as a return to the self, and repentance as breaking into another world. With conversion (epistrophe), there is also an element of a

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 77 break or rupture as there is no truth without conversion that “removes the subject from his current status and condition” (Foucault 2005a: 15). Overall, then, conversion is a movement of love (Foucault 2005a: 16). It is not a release from the body, but rather a completion (Foucault 2005a: 210). It constitutes “a self-subjectivation rather than a trans-subjectivation” (Foucault 2005a: 214). Incidentally, there are difficulties here in going from Greek (metanoia) to Latin (paenitentia), and French to English (Elden 2016: 118). In all this, however, Foucault recognizes his debt here to Pierre Hadot. Hadot distinguishes between conversion as a turn and repentance as mutation. Hadot refers to this as a contrast between a return to the origin and a rebirth, raising the issue of what he describes as the “fidelity-rupture polarity” (Hadot 1968: 979). In terms of Jewish antecedents, however, the meaning of repentance needs to be set within the context of the complex theological theme of redemption. In the Jewish tradition, redemption is a constellation of ideas, about relationships with God, the other, and the land, which is premised on divine generosity (hesed).10 The constellation of redemption includes elements of immanence and transcendence, returning and changing, origin and renewal, which are not separated into discrete categories. In other words, in Jewish thinking, which influenced churches well into the first century, there was a constellation of terms, which only made sense as a constellation. So, it is not appropriate to separate conversion and repentance clinically, resolving the ambiguities. Moreover, the ambiguity itself is important for expressing the complexities of the experience of transformation. For Hadot, “At all levels, the phenomenon of conversion reflects the irreducible ambiguity of human reality” (Hadot 1968: 979). Overall, spirituality is essential for Foucault. In terms of an ontology of ourselves, spirituality represents the unity of care of the self, and selfknowledge. Foucault defines spirituality as “the search, practice, and experience through which the subject carries out the necessary transformations on himself in order to have access to the truth” (Foucault 2005a: 15, 46). In specific terms, he proffers provisionally, “I mean – but I am not sure this definition can hold for very long – the subject’s attainment of a certain mode of being and the transformations that the subject must carry out on itself to attain this mode of being” (Foucault 2003a: 36). In all this, he links subjectivity and truth. But without self-transformation, there is no access to the truth. Nevertheless, there are specific problems, as “it is impossible to separate theology and philosophy, the attempt to establish a modern rupture of spirituality from Christianity unravels” (Carrette 2013: 57). Moreover, Carrette argues that there is a paradox in Foucault wanting to make a rupture with a Christian understanding of spiritualty, and yet remaining tied to Christian discourse of transformation (Carrette 2013: 52–53). In conclusion, the difference between Foucault’s spirituality and Christianity’s spirituality is not absolute. In places, the language that

78 Foucault, Confession, and transformation Foucault the philosopher uses is implicitly theological. In other words, the meaning of words and concepts like conversion, straddle disciplines and are informed and shaped respectively by each discipline. In the end, however, the language of conversion is not productive for my theology of transformation. This is partly because the difference between conversion and repentance is not absolute, but also, because the English term conversion is laden with negative associations. Moreover, it is not helpful to clinically separate the concepts of conversion and repentance, trying to resolve the ambiguity, as the ambiguity is important for capturing the complexities of the process of transformation, this is, “the irreducible ambiguity of human reality” (Hadot 1968: 979). In exploring transformation, then, I will not rely on the terms conversion and repentance, but focus instead on a contemporary construal of transformation, which is based on my development of the concept of desubjectivation (below). In preparation, I outline the importance of truth-telling, which becomes increasingly important in Foucault’s understanding of transformation. Of course, truth-telling resonates with the triptych of Nicodemus, and his reference to the law in the second panel (Jn 7:51). Moreover, the practice of truth-telling is important for the vocation of the theologian (chapter 6).

A truth-telling life In Foucault, truth-telling emerges as a supremely important theme and practice. But what is this truth-telling? In his final year of lectures, Foucault explores truth-telling (parrhesia) comprehensively. This set of lectures represents a culmination of his long-term interest in the relationship between subjectivity and truth. For Foucault, a commitment to truth-telling is an integral part of the process of self-transformation. Specifically, the study of the concept of parrhesia discloses something crucial about the interrelation between “the analysis of modes of veridiction, the study of techniques of governmentality, and the identification of forms of practice of self” (Foucault 2011: 8). Subsequently, he admits that the task of linking together “modes of veridiction, techniques of governmentality, and practices of the self is basically what I have always been trying to do” (Foucault 2011: 8). In this section, I focus on parrhesia, which I am interpreting as truthtelling (Foucault 2011: 4–5). I have hyphenated the term truth-telling to accentuate the close connection between truth, the subject, and the subject speaking the truth. Fundamentally, it takes courage to speak the truth. Moreover, truth-telling is about the harmony between life and discourse, as such, it constitutes a “mode of life” (Foucault 2011: 148–149). It requires an ethical differentiation, in public and private spheres: Of course all moral action involves a relationship with the reality in which it is carried out, and a relationship with the self. The latter is not

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 79 simply “self-awareness” but self-formation as an “ethical subject,” a process in which the individual delimits that part of himself that will form the object of his moral practice, defines his position relative to the precept he will follow, and decides on a certain mode of being that will serve as his moral goal. (Foucault 1990e: 28) The truth-telling life poses risks, especially as it represents the other life, not the other world (Foucault 2011: 244). Furthermore, truth-telling is intimately related to care of the self, and, ultimately, care of the soul. So, then, care of soul includes truth-telling. Moreover, if confession is the subject externalising thoughts for the sake of obedience to a confessor, parrhesia is discourse that changes the subject for the sake of the subject. In specific terms, truth-telling can be employed pejoratively or positively. Pejoratively, it surfaces as banal speech. Positively, it must be the truthteller’s authentic personal opinion, where the speaker is committed to the truth. That is, she willing to face risks, even death (Foucault 2011: 11).11 It is not to be confused with rhetoric, instead parrhesia is the courage of truth in the person who speaks, and takes the risk of telling the whole truth (it is also the interlocutor’s courage in agreeing to accept the truth that she hears). It is not a skill or a technique, but “a stance, a way of being which is akin to a virtue, a mode of action” (Foucault 2011: 14). The truth-teller is different from the prophet, the seer, the sage, and the teacher. In the process of truth-telling “The parrhesiast does not reveal what is to his interlocutor; he discloses or helps him to recognize what he is” (Foucault 2011: 19). Historically, there is a change of meaning in parrhesia from being oriented toward polis to ethos (Foucault 2011: 34). From the start, truthtelling in the city was dangerous. In the public square, however, true discourse is hard to discern, which leads to the problem of ethos and ethical differentiation (Foucault 2011: 40–41). Ironically, democracy “is not the privileged site of parrhesia, but the place in which parrhesia is most difficult to practice” (Foucault, 2011: 57). This is because the lack of “a place for ethos in democracy means that truth has no place and cannot be heard in democracy” (Foucault 2011: 64). Certainly, this is something of a schematic overview. Subsequently, the example of the Cynics would be helpful here, because of their close relationship to Christianity and Western subjectivity. Moreover, there is “a Cynicism which is an integral part of the history of Western thought, existence, and subjectivity” (Foucault 2011: 174). Foucault uses Cynicism as an example of truth-telling in practice, while acknowledging we do not know a lot about it. Moreover, the relationship between Cynic lifestyle and truth-telling is complex, “The mode of life (staff, beggar’s pouch, poverty, roaming, begging) has very precise functions in relation to this parrhesia, this truth-telling” (Foucault 2011: 169–171). There are links between Cynics and Christianity.12 Thus, we

80 Foucault, Confession, and transformation could “therefore conceive of the history of Cynicism, not, once again, as a doctrine, but much more as an attitude and a way of being, with, of course, its own justificatory and explanatory discourse” (Foucault 2011: 178). A central issue with Cynicism is that of “establishing a relationship between forms of existence and manifestation of the truth” (Foucault 2011: 180). In other words, true Cynicism is demonstrated by actions. Furthermore, in pursuing the true life, the Cynic looks at the meaning of truth as “the unconcealed, the unalloyed, the straight, and the unchanging and incorruptible” (Foucault 2011: 219). Cynicism then sheds new light on the courage of truth. The Cynic scandal entails taking risks, even to the point of death. So, with the question of the philosophical life “Cynicism is the form of philosophy which constantly raises the question: what can the form of life be such that it practices truth-telling?” (Foucault 2011: 234) In conclusion, I have argued elsewhere about how truth-telling has suffered in the life of the church under the exactions of pastoral power (Ogden: 2017). In principle, however, Christianity, like Cynicism, shares a commitment to the true life. This commitment, almost in spite of our institutions, has been expressed in practice by countless Christians and Christian communities. In fact, truth-telling, a commitment to truth-telling, and a willingness to take risks in the name of truth, are indispensable to Christian thinking, discourses, and practices (cf. John’s gospel). Moreover, Christian practices show similarities to Cynic practices. The extent of borrowing is not clear. For Foucault, however, the long-term influence of Cynicism on Western subjectivity was more important, and the key here is the courage of truth, and its relationship to subjectivity. Here, ethical parrhesia “is the courage of the truth, not in the frank assertion of one’s opinion in the political scene, but rather in the perseverance in the problematization of one’s self, in the mission of taking care of oneself and others” (McGushin 2007: 93). Moreover, Foucault’s emphasis on truth-telling rings true in relation to the triptych of Nicodemus, and the vocation of theologians (chapters 5 and 6). Interestingly, a version of truth-telling has an important role in the transformation of violent subjects too (chapter 6). Finally, in terms of his reading of Christianity, Foucault acknowledges his limits. He refers to himself modestly as “utterly incompetent” producing a “wholly naïve and superficial reading” (Foucault 2014a: 86). Significantly, he describes his analysis of second penance as having been performed “very schematically, roughly” (Foucault 2014a: 198 cf. 194). Furthermore, he says little about Jesus the Jew or the Jewish tradition. Ironically, the first and second centuries, which is a critical period in Foucault’s analysis, is also a critical period in terms of the formative influence of Judaism on Christianity. Certainly, early first century Christians were mainly Jewish Christians. Nevertheless, his overall critique of the trajectory of the premodern churches of the Latin West is invaluable. It is an important critique in its own right, and it invites consideration of alternative trajectories.

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 81

An alternative trajectory In this chapter, I examine three interrelated trajectories of transformation. In broad terms, the trajectories relate to the church, Foucault, and my own work. In places, the trajectories overlap, but they have different premises, and they head in different directions. I present a summary of the three trajectories here. The purpose of the comparison is to prefigure something of the distinctiveness of my approach, which will be developed in full in chapters 5 and 6. First, historically, there is a dominant negative tradition in the church. This tradition embodies certain anthropological assumptions (e.g., the stain of sin) and the importance of discipline (i.e., establishing obedience, restoring order). In a contemporary setting, this is what Tom Beaudoin refers to as “the way the church deploys shame and guilt, healing and reconciliation, and confession” (Beaudoin, 2018: 109). In this trajectory, transformation is an ongoing task of purification. The transformation is largely functional. It is about restoring and maintaining church order. This trajectory of transformation is an ongoing task because humankind, as a consequence of the Fall, cannot change its nature. It is a pessimistic view of humankind. The prospect of ontological transformation is an end-time event. Second, Foucault sets out to develop an alternative trajectory of transformation. This is implicit in his early work, with his concerns about identifying and addressing the problem of subjection. This trajectory, however, is explicit in his later interest in Greek, Roman, and Hellenistic spiritual practices. This trajectory is a secular construal of transformation. It is a comparatively more optimistic view of humankind. Above all, it entails a radical shift from confession for the sake of the confessor to truthtelling for the sake of the subject. Foucault’s version of transformation, however, does not have a strong sense of the intersubjective, but the potential is there. Furthermore, his notion of transformation is ontological. It is about the transformation of the subject’s very being, though the exact meaning of this ontological transformation is not clear. Moreover, Foucault seems to be searching to find the right language to capture the meaning of transformation.13 In terms of my interest in baptism (chapter 6), Foucault recognized that pre-second century baptismal practices and theologies were different from later practices, “from the end of the second century onward one sees the growing place occupied, in the economy of every soul’s salvation, by the manifestation of one’s own truth” (Foucault 2021: 53). At the turn of the third century, under the influence of Tertullian, “the purification procedure now seems to need to precede both the pardon and the very ritual of immersion; in the purifying operation whose agent now seems to be man himself acting upon himself” (Foucault 2021: 41). Metanoia, as a conversion of the soul, “increasingly takes the form of an exercise of oneself upon

82 Foucault, Confession, and transformation oneself, consisting of a mortification – of a deliberate, diligent, and continuous elimination of everything in the body or soul that might be attached to sin” (Foucault 2021: 55). From our vantage point, the onus on baptism here is not on incorporation into a faith community, under grace, but instead, it is the forensic work of disclosing the truth for the sake of church order. Third, this is my trajectory. It is a religious trajectory. It has an optimistic view of humankind, which is held in tension with the reality of human suffering and the endemic problem of violence. In other words, it accepts the reality of sinning, but not the insinuation of the stain. Further, transformation has an important place in church order (cf. the sacraments), but critically, church order is not its raison d’etre. Furthermore, this trajectory entails the ontological transformation of the person, here and now, expressed in community with others. Transformation is an immanent possibility. It is an experience of desubjectivation, which is a limit-experience, entailing transgression and crossing thresholds. At the personal level, we encounter a limit-experience. At the cultural level, the limit-experience is a performative event. This is where we embody, enact, and voice the limitexperience. Subsequently, I develop this theology of transformation in chapter 5, apply it in chapter 6, and assess it chapter 7. In preparation for this, I develop my notion of desubjectivation in the remainder of the present chapter.

The concept of desubjectivation In this section, I begin to develop my concept of desubjectivation, which plays a key role in my theology of transformation. In preparation, I revisit aspects of the subject. Clearly, Foucault was concerned about constraints imposed (i.e., limits) on the subject by the individualizing and totalizing effects of modern power-relations (Foucault 2003c: 131). The constraints include how we see ourselves. So, Foucault explored new ways for the subject to see, name, and subvert the constraints of subjection, as we need “to promote new forms of subjectivity through the refusal of this kind of individuality that has been imposed on us for centuries” (Foucault 2003c: 134). Of course, there is a wider debate here about the meaning of the subject in Foucault. Certainly, Foucault’s prognosis about the erasure of “man” in The Order of Things has been a touchstone text in this debate (Foucault 2002: 422). Subsequently, an “anti-subjective hypothesis” has emerged in response to Foucault’s seemingly ambiguous position (Allen 2000: 114). But is it ambiguous? On the one hand, a surface reading of the early and middle Foucault presents a variety of subjects (e.g., the mad, the patient, the prisoner), who were hapless victims of structural processes and powerrelations, leaving the full development of the subject to his later phase. On the other hand, beneath the surface, he has been consistently concerned

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 83 about the nature and impact of limits on the subject, and how the subject can move beyond these limits. In the process, concerns about agency eventually became more explicit in Foucault, culminating in his final works on self-transformation. Nonetheless, his key concern is not the subject as constituent, but rather, it is about how the subject is constituted (Allen 2000: 122). In retrospect, moreover, we can detect some early signs of this more dynamic view of the subject, for example, his “inquiries into the conditions of possibility of modern subjectivity” (Foucault 1972: 16), and his work on counter-conduct (Foucault 2007). In summary, then, Foucault is not concerned about the death of man per se, but rather, the death of a constricted and constricting modern subjectivity. This is the “rational Western subject” (Huffer 2013a: 44). Once again, it comes back to the subject and the problem of limits, which raises the importance of the concept of desubjectivation. His growing interest in the possibility of transforming the subject was in part sparked by his experiences in Iran. Foucault’s polemical visits to Iran in 1978, his commentary, and the term “political spirituality” are all matters of debate. In terms of the Shi’ite struggle, he was interested in “the form that the political struggle takes as soon as it mobilizes the common people” which “transforms them into a force because it is a form of expression, a mode of social relations, a supple and widely accepted elemental organization, a way of being together, a way of speaking and listening” (Foucault 2005b: 202–203). So, from the 1980s, he explored what a new mode of being might look like. For example, practices of spiritualty presume “that for the subject to have right of access to the truth he must be changed, transformed, shifted and become, to some extent and up to a certain point other than himself” (Foucault 2005a: 15). In this light then, “Political spirituality comes about in shaping and refracting the political space such that a transformation of the self and by extension the political arena becomes possible” (Raffnsøe, GudmandHøyer, and Thaning 2016: 440). As such, political spirituality is a “generative principle of formation” (Dillon and Reid 2009: 154). I think the term political spirituality is problematic, however, partly because of its associations with his engagement in Iran, but also because it was not fully developed. Nevertheless, there is something important here about transformation taking place in the political space. Instead, then, the concept of desubjectivation is critical here for developing my alternative trajectory of transformation.14 But let’s start with subjectivation. Subjectivation refers to the complex process of subject formation, that is, it is about how we are formed. It includes the experience of subjection, which forms and informs the subject. Ironically, subjection is the imposed constraint that makes us who we are (Butler 2005: 15–17, 28, 136). Critically, there are “two meanings of the word ‘subject’: subject to someone else by control and dependence, and tied to his own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge” (Foucault 2003c: 130). In this light, desubjectivation is a process for inaugurating new forms of subjectivity, which

84 Foucault, Confession, and transformation addresses the problem of subjection. In other words, we have to problematize our subjectivity in order to address it, but then we need an experience of self-dispossession. This is desubjectivation.

Extending and developing the concept of desubjectivation Foucault provides indications about the meaning of his project of desubjectivation, but he does not develop them fully. An indication of his understanding is found in his description of the impact of a limit-experience as a wrenching of the subject from itself.15 This reference is from an interview, where he argues, in my words, that we cannot manage experience. In other words, we cannot take responsibility for experience, because experience manages us, “experience has the function of wrenching the subject from itself, of seeing to it that the subject is no longer itself, or that it is brought to its annihilation, or its dissolution. This is a project of desubjectivation” (Foucault 2000a: 241–242). In chapter 5 then, I develop my theology of transformation, incorporating the concept of desubjectivation. In preparation, I develop my version of desubjectivation here, focusing on the concept of a limitexperience. Overall, the idea of limit is important for Foucault, “what I would like to grasp is the system of limits and exclusions which we practice without realizing it” (Foucault 1996a: 73). Nonetheless, he does not define the concept of limit clearly (Hanssen 2000: 72). But there are important nuances in Foucault. In an early article, limit is about transgression. In a later article, limit is about crossing-over. I refer to these nuances respectively as transgression and threshold. So, in my concept of desubjectivation, the limit-experience, as a disruptive (wrenching) experience, has elements of transgression and threshold. In chapter 6, I explore this in relation to baptism as a liminal experience, entailing transgression and threshold. At this juncture, however, I examine briefly the two articles in order to draw out these nuances. In the early article, Foucault is reflecting on Bataille, writing, sexuality, and transgression. In this context, transformation is related to transgression, which “is an action that involves the limit” (Foucault 2003e: 445). Transgression here is not negative “but affirms limited being” (Foucault 2003e: 446). In fact, limit and transgression are entwined. Limits, by definition, can be transgressed, and transgression presumes the existence of a limit. So, limit and transgression are bound together. The limit and transgression depend on each other for whatever density of being they possess: a limit could not exist if it were absolutely uncrossable and, reciprocally, transgression would be pointless if it merely crossed a limit completely composed of illusions and shadows. (Foucault 2003e: 445)

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 85 Limit and transgression constitute inseparable, yet distinguishable, aspects of experience. In other words, it does not make sense to talk about a limit, without the possibility of it being transgressed. In this sense, the wrenching of the subject is a kind of transgression, which is part of the experience of transformation. But there is another dimension to transformation. In the later article, transformation is more a crossing-over. Again, Foucault is concerned about limits. Limits are critical for defining who we are, “I shall thus characterize the philosophical ethos appropriate to the critical ontology of ourselves as a historico-practical test of the limits we may go beyond, and thus as work carried out by ourselves upon ourselves as free beings” (Foucault 2003b: 54). In this article, then, the emphasis is on crossing-over. For example, note his comment on the purpose of critique, “The point in brief is to transform the critique conducted in the form of a necessary limitation into a practical critique that takes the form of a possible crossing-over [franchissement]” (Foucault 2003b: 53). The term franchissement is from franchir (CRFD: 412) and it can be used to describe, for example, crossing a river. The limit here is more like a threshold than a barrier (Hanssen 2000: 71). Nevertheless, in a transformative experience, the two nuances of transgression and threshold (crossing-over) are not mutually exclusive. But first, it is important to look at desubjectivation more broadly. Lynne Huffer provides an important queer-feminist reading of desubjectivation, encompassing the problematization of the subject, conditions of possibility, and the possibility of addressing the constraints of modern subjectivity (Huffer 2013a: 84). She says her work has been motivated by her “Foucauldian fascination with desubjectivation and what self-undoing might mean” (Huffer 2013a: 56). For her, “the promise lies in forms of self-transformation we might imagine not as expansions of the self but as self-unravelings. That unraveling opens a space for the invention of new desubjectivations we cannot now imagine” (Huffer 2010: 115). For Huffer, desubjectivation, is more than a negation of the “I” (Huffer 2010: 116). It is more than an exercise in performativity. In the spirit of the wrenching of the subject, Huffer avows that what “I’m calling desubjectivation is not only promising but deeply unsettling” (Huffer 2010: 118). It is a way of becoming-other and “losing oneself completely” (Huffer 2010: 123), which “enables one to get free of oneself” (Foucault 1990e: 8). So Huffer, acknowledging the complexities in all this, confesses “I don’t really know what desubjectivation as becoming-other means, except as a way to name madness” (Huffer 2010: 123). Like the prophets and mystics, she recognizes we cannot fully understand the process. Lee Edelman, however, is critical of Huffer’s work on desubjectivation (Edelman 2016: 108). He insinuates that, in trying to address the change from Foucault’s early work to his later work, Huffer has de-subjectivized desubjectivation. That is, try “as she might to conjoin the negativity of desubjectivation to the work of ‘ethical remaking’… she winds up

86 Foucault, Confession, and transformation repeatedly toggling between the two instead” (Edelman 2016: 114). As a critique, Edelman’s work evokes two responses. On the one hand, Edelman seems to imply that he has been misrepresented in Huffer’s book by being presented in terms of “the ‘negativity’… apparent in some recent forms of ‘queer’ thought, and also, at least ‘implicitly… a negative ethics that is nonrelational” (Edelman 2016: 107). On the other hand, he raises a significant issue about the nature of desubjectivation. According to Edelman, by focusing on the ethical remaking of the subject, Huffer runs the risk of losing that sense of the inherent shock of the limit-experience (Edelman 2016: 109–110, 112). In other words, desubjectivation is inherently disruptive. In summary, however, this is how I intend to adapt and extend the concept of desubjectivation: •









My concept of desubjectivation is a theological notion. I talk about divine desubjectivation. Desubjectivation includes elements of transgression and/or crossing the threshold. I illustrate the dual aspect of limit by making a political reading of baptism as a counter-practice. Suffice to say here, Beatrice Hanssen prefigured this nuance in a discussion on critique, when Foucault transformed a “negative, limitbound, restrictive definition into a positive prescription, asking us to invent a new limit-attitude” (Hanssen 2000: 71) A redeveloped concept of desubjectivation provides a fresh approach to violent subjects. In the long run, male perpetrators, who control or violate women, require deep-seated change. That is, the relinquishment of power is part of the transformative process. Successful change, however, is limited at this level. So, I address the importance of cultural transformation, and the nexus between theological discourses and political rationalities, bearing on the transformation of violent subjects. But it is important to start with the subject, in order to identify the pertinent rationalities that need changing (e.g., entitlement) Desubjectivation enables the development of a robust theological analysis of the process of transformation, which is central to Christian thinking, discourses, and practices (e.g., born anew). It enlarges the horizon of Christian thinking about transformation By extending Foucault’s work, we also expand the intersubjective dimension. This reminds us, following Judith Butler, that we are “undone by another” (Butler 2005: 136). The encounter with the other is a limit-experience. For Huffer, “ethical desubjectivation is a practice of freedom inextricably bound to the practice of others” (Huffer 2013a: 31). Like a catalyst, the intersubjective elicits transformation. Like baptism, the gathered faith community is an integral part of the sacramental (limit) experience As a wrenching of the subject, transformation entails self-critique. As an exercise in truth-telling, there is a performative dimension.

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 87 The process of transformation manifests as truth-telling, that is, the truth about self/other/world. Like Nicodemus, in truth, we come into the light In conclusion, I considered three trajectories of transformation in this chapter. In broad terms, the trajectories relate to the church, Foucault, and my work. In places, these trajectories overlap, but they head in different directions. The purpose of the comparison is to prefigure something of the distinctiveness of my approach. Of course, I have used Foucault’s work as a touchstone. Certainly, his critique of premodern Christian penitential practices rings true. But what about sin? And violence? Of course, the potential for violence is an ontological possibility, but I am keen to avoid the imposition of some kind of moral determinism. Globally, there is also a range of Christian anthropologies. Moreover, in contrast to a pessimistic legacy within the premodern churches of the Latin West, my work is premised on a positive anthropology developed for a postmodern context. I am emphasizing the notion of human dignity and the importance of human agency, all of which comes to life in counter-conduct. The focus of my work is violence. This is the impetus for the development of my theology of transformation, which is enhanced by the use of a redeveloped notion of desubjectivation. This is my trajectory. Moreover, it is a religious trajectory, which entails the ontological transformation of the person, here and now, expressed in community with others. So, transformation is an immanent possibility. As such, it is an experience of desubjectivation. This is a limit-experience, entailing transgression and threshold. At the personal level, we encounter a limit-experience. At the cultural level, we embody and enact a limit-experience in the face of the dispositif of the strongman. In this context, it requires self-critique, as well as socio-political critique, as we take up our role in generating counterdiscourses and counter-practices. I develop this theology in chapter 5.

Notes 1 Horujy (2015: 157) is emphatic that there are other spiritualties and spiritual practices in the Church (e.g., hesychast). 2 Meens (2014: 4): “The following study will argue that many of these assumptions are based on too-easy generalizations of the complex nature and history of penance and confession during the Middle Ages”. 3 Meens (2014: 122) following the Council of Chalon, it was apparent that the “different ways in which Carolingian bishops dealt with penitential matters in 813 shows that not only a variety of penitential practices existed, but that ecclesiastical views could also differ significantly”; also the penitential handbooks showed a great variety of practice and interpretation (Meens 2014: 223). 4 For a more detailed account of truth and truth statements in Foucault, see Ogden (2017: 40–43). 5 Foucault makes a link here with Tertullian. The importance of Tertullian is debatable. On the one hand, Horujy (2015: 54, 160) criticizes Foucault’s use of

88 Foucault, Confession, and transformation

6

7

8

9 10

11 12 13

14

15

Tertullian as being narrow, and frequently using material out of context. On the other hand, the description of Tertullian’s influence on penitential practices, which has been developed by Meens (2014: 7–18), accords with Foucault’s assessment. Julian’s (2012: 201) concern about impure thoughts was also a concern for the cynics “The true short cut to philosophy is this: a man must step outside himself and know that the soul within him is divine. He must ever and always train his mind of clean, pure and holy thoughts”. Horujy criticizes Foucault for relying too much on Cassian for his portrait of the monastic (Horujy 2015: 47, 49). However, Meens is in agreement with Foucault about Cassian’s “prominent role in the transmission of Eastern monastic ideals in the West” (Meens 2014: 39–40). Mack (1996: 56–57) identifies parallels between the rhetoric of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark and the work of the Cynics. However, Witherington (2000: 127) argues that Mack exaggerated the strength of the parallels between the Cynics and Jesus, because he had not adequately considered the Jewish wisdom tradition. Nevertheless, Pierre Hadot (2004: 263, 272) sees some broad parallels. McGushin (2007: 39), “The subject cannot see the truth, cannot try to discover it through trying to ‘know’ things because its very being prevents it from doing so”. Hesed is a major theme in the Hebrew Scriptures. It can be translated as loving kindness. It is used broadly to describe God’s gracious response to the people of God, which is an expression of God’s character and God’s (covenant) commitment to the people. As a consequence, there is an intersubjective dimension, that is, the people of God are called to live-out loving kindness in community. It has nuances of obligation, loyalty, kindness, and grace (Holliday 1971: 111). This is like Tillich’s “the courage to be”. Later, Foucault makes a passing reference to Tillich and the courage to be in his discussion about the Cynics (Foucault 2011: 178). Mack (1996: 56–57), there is a parallel between the rhetoric of Jesus, especially in the Gospel of Mark, reflecting the logic of the Cynic anecdote, which also uses Cynic-like khreiai sayings (Foucault 2011: 208). Irwin (2002: xvi) in comparing Georges Batailles and Simone Weil, Irwin concludes “Both writers believed a positive renewal of political forms, if such a renewal were practicable at all, depended on a transformation for which the language of religion provided the least inappropriate vocabulary”. Asad (1993:140): “In the account the follows, I argue for a different conception. I try to show that the rhetoric of renunciation is part of the construction of a self-policing function, and that it should not, therefore, be seen as the rejection of a pre-socialized (real) self”. CRFD: 53, “wrenching” from arracher meaning “to lift… to pull up, to uproot… to tear ou pull out… to take out, to extract”.

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Foucault, Confession, and transformation 89 Butler J. (2005). Giving an Account of Oneself, New York: Fordham University Press. Carrette, J.R. (2013). “Rupture and Transformation: Foucault’s Concept of Spirituality Reconsidered” in Foucault Studies, 15, 52–71. Cassian, J. (1985). Conferences, trans. C. Luibheid, New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press. Dillon, M. (2015). Biopolitics of Security: A Political Analytic of Finitude, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Dillon, M. and Reid, J. (2009). The Liberal Way of War: Killing to Make Life Live, London and New York Routledge. Edelman, Lee. (2016). “An Ethics of Desubjectivation” in A Journal of Feminist Critical Studies, 27.3, 106–118, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3696679 Elden, S. (2016). Foucault’s Last Decade, Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press. Foucault, M. (1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge (and The Discourse on Language), trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith, New York: Vintage. Foucault, M. (1988a). The Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality Volume 3, trans. R. Hurley, New York: Vintage. Foucault, M. (1988b). “Technologies of the self” in L.H. Martin, H. Gutman, P.H. Hutton eds., Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 16–49. Foucault, M. (1990e). The Use of Pleasure: The History of Sexuality, Volume. 2, trans. R. Hurley, New York: Vintage. Foucault, M. (1996a). “Rituals of exclusion” in S. Lotringer ed., Foucault Live: Michel Foucault, Collected Interviews, 1961–1984, trans. L. Hochroth and J. Johnston, New York: Semiotext(e), 68–73. Foucault, M. (2000a). “Interview with Michel Foucault” by D Trombadori in J.D. Faubion ed., Michel Foucault: Power, trans. R. Hurley and others, New York: New Press, 239–297. Foucault, M. (2002). The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, London and New York: Routledge. Foucault, M. (2003a). “The ethics of the concern of the self”, in P. Rabinow and N. Rose eds., The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984. New York and London: New Press, 25–42. Foucault, M. (2003b). “What is Enlightenment?” in P. Rabinow and N. Rose eds., The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984. New York and London: New Press, 43–57. Foucault, M. (2003c). “The subject and power” in P. Rabinow and N. Rose eds., The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984. New York and London: New Press, 126–144. Foucault, M. (2003e). “A preface to transgression”, in P. Rabinow and N. Rose eds., The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984. New York and London: New Press, 442–457. Foucault, M. (2005a). F. Gros ed., The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1981–1982, trans. G. Burchell, New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2005b). “Tehran: Faith against the Shah” in Janet Afary and Kevin B Anderson, Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 198–203.

90 Foucault, Confession, and transformation Foucault, M. (2007). M. Senellart ed., Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France 1977–1978 trans. G. Burchell, New York: Picador. Foucault, M. (2011). F. Gros ed., The Courage of Truth: The Government of Self and Others II, Lectures at the College De France 1983–1984, trans. A.I. Davidson, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Foucault, M. (2014a). M. Senellart ed., On the Government of the Living: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1979–1980, trans. G. Burchell, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Foucault, M. (2014b). F. Brion and B.E. Harcourt eds., Wrong-Doing TruthTelling: The Function of Avowal in Justice, trans. S.W. Sawyer, Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press. Foucault, M. (2016). H. Fruchard and D. Lorenzini eds., Michel Foucault About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Lectures at Dartmouth College 1980, trans. G. Burchell, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Foucault, M. (2021). F. Gros ed., Confessions of the Flesh: The History of Sexuality, Volume 4. Trans. R. Hurley, New York: Pantheon Books. Gadamer, H. (2004). Truth and Method, 2nd edition, trans. J. Weinsheimer and D.G. Marshall, London, New York: Continuum. Hadot, P. (1968). “Conversion” in Encyclopaedia Universalis, vol. 4, trans. A. Irvine, Paris: Encyclopaedia Universalis France, 979–981. Hadot, P. (2004). What is Ancient Philosophy? trans. M. Chase, Cambridge and London: Bellknap Press of Harvard University Press. Hanssen, B. (2000). Critique of Violence: Between Postsructuralism and Critical Theory, London and New York: Routledge. Holliday, W.L. (1971). A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Leiden: E.J. Brill. Horujy, S.S. (2015). K. Stoeckl ed., Practices of the Self and Spiritual Practices: Michel Foucault and the Eastern Christian Discourse, trans. B. Jakim, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans. Huffer, L. (2010). Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory, New York: Columbia University Press. Huffer, L. (2013a). Are the Lips a Grave? A Queer Feminist on the Ethics of Sex, New York: Columbia University Press. Irwin, A. (2002). Saints of the Impossible: Bataille, Weil, and the Politics of the Sacred, London and Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Julian. (2012). “To the Cynic Heracleios (Oration 7)”, in R. Dobbin ed., The Cynic Philosophers from Diogenes to Julian. London: Penguin, 201. Kharkhordin, O. (1999). The Collective and the Individual in Russia: A Study of Practices, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. Koopman, C. (2013a). “The formation and self-transformation of the subject in Foucault’s ethics”, in C. Falzon, T. O’Leary, and J. Sawicki eds., A Companion to Foucault. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 526–543. Lemke, T. (2019). Foucault’s Analysis of Modern Governmentality: A Critique of Political Reason, trans. E. Butler, London and New York: Verso Books. Mack, B.L. (1996). Who Wrote the New Testament: The Making of the Christian Myth, New York: Harper Collins Publishers. McGushin E.F. (2007). Foucault’s Askēsis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press.

Foucault, Confession, and transformation 91 McSweeney, J. (2013). “Religion in the Web of Immanence: Foucault and Thinking Otherwise after the Death of God” in Foucault Studies 15, 72–94. Meens, R. (2014). Penance in Medieval Europe 600-1200, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ogden, S.G. (2017). The Church, Authority and Foucault: Imagining the Church as an Open Space of Freedom, London and New York: Routledge. Raffnsøe, S., Gudmand-Høyer, M., and Thaning, M.S. (2016). Michel Foucault: A Research Companion, Basingstoke, UK, and New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan. Taylor, C. (2009). The Culture of Confession from Augustine to Foucault: A Genealogy of the ‘Confessing Animal’, London and New York: Routledge. Tertullian. (1957). “On Repentance” in J. Stevenson ed., A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church to A.D. 337. London: SPCK, 186–187. Witherington, B. (2000). Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrim of Wisdom, Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

5

A theology of transformation

Overview I interpret transformation as an experience of desubjectivation, but what does this mean? Specifically, what does a limit-experience look like in theological terms? Moreover, if a limit-experience is a transgression and a crossing-over, how does that unfold at the personal and cultural levels of analysis? At the personal level then, we can encounter a limit-experience, which may be transformative. I explore this dimension through the narrative of Nicodemus. At the cultural level, the limit-experience is a performative event. The onus is not so much on our transformation, which is part of it, but rather, it is on our engagement in, and with, the political. It happens when, in the face of strongman politics, we embody a limitexperience. In other words, our opposition is a limit, an alternative perspective, and a divine counter-point. In this chapter, there are two basic stages. First, I examine approaches to transformation in the work of Rowan Williams and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, with an eye to how they address personal and cultural transformation. My examination identifies seminal ideas in their work. Second, my premise is the inherent potential for transformation based on the reign of God, stressing immanence and an immediate future. I look at this through the lens of eternal life in John’s gospel, seeing it as life in the new age. I use the triptych of Nicodemus to develop my theology of transformation (John 3:1–15; 7:45–52; 19:38–42).

Rowan Williams With Rowan Williams, the significant aspects under consideration are theology, self, a self-transcending relation, and remorse. In terms of theology, my project resonates broadly with the work of Rowan Williams, such as the importance of language (cf. discourse), power-relations, the effect of power on the marginal, and the need to relinquish power. Arguably, the role of power and discourse in the public square becomes

DOI: 10.4324/9780429273520-5

A theology of transformation 93 increasingly important for Williams. He is committed to the Anglican church, but he is able to critique the institution. It is hard to characterize his view of God. Broadly, it is “an incarnational account that refuses any dualism between inside and outside” (Delport 2018: 473). In Williams, then, we reside in God. Moreover, the difference between God and humankind in Williams is subtle. It is what Myers describes as the paradox of the incarnation in Williams (Myers 2012: 4). Overall, Williams is passionate about faith, but exercises a reserve when speaking about God, recognising the limits and the possibilities of language. In this vein, he writes: So this book will not be attempting to offer that unlikely product, a new and knockdown ‘argument for the existence of God’. But it will be seeking to place our talk about God in the context of what we think we are doing when we communicate at all, when we aim to ‘represent’ our environment, when we press our words and images to breaking point in the strange conviction that we shall end up seeing and understanding more as a result. (Williams 2014: xiii) For Williams, the self is complex. Nevertheless, it is important to know thyself, which entails recognizing the inherent ambiguity of the self. Indeed, he is wary of the modern search for the true self, lamenting that the “rhetoric of discovering a true but buried identity spreads over both private and political spheres” (Williams 1992: 211). As such, honest and transparent self-knowledge is critical for Williams. Following St Bernard, Williams endorses self-knowledge as “the condition for repentance, prayer and practical charity” that only makes sense “in the light of God” (Williams 1992: 219). This light is not an esoteric gift for a select (gnostic) few, but available to all who encounter God in history. Following Augustine, Williams affirms “true knowledge of self is inseparable from true knowledge of God” (Williams 1992: 220). For Williams, selfknowledge entails becoming “a constantly self-critical autobiographical project” (Williams 1992: 222). So, we are works in progress. Furthermore, wrestling with the problem of subjection, Williams sees self-knowledge as “a practice of criticism, specifically the criticism of the way the subject distorts its self-perception into fixity by fixation upon the meeting of needs in the determinate form in which they are mediated to us in the perception of the Other” (Williams 1992: 223–224). So, then “any rhetoric of humility and dispossession should be subjected to suspicion” (Williams 1992: 224). Implicitly, his understanding of self-knowledge is premised on faith in God and a commitment to a truth-telling life. Williams exercises a hermeneutic of suspicion. So, we have to be, “suspicious of a suspicion that looks for a determinate hidden content to consciousness or phenomena” (Williams 2007d: 190). We cannot, by our own

94 A theology of transformation devices then, solve the riddle of the self, because the self finds its meaning in God. This does not mean that we cannot talk about an interior life, but rather, such talk does not refer to a hidden or separate life. A major theme here then is the fragmentation of existence. As such, our culture is fragmented, as we are also fragmented. And we have to learn to work, in faith, in this fragmented world. We have to deal with limits, personal and cultural: We are not, in fact, ‘in’ the world as selves contained in some other sort of thing – the shell or husk of flesh: what we are are our limits, that we are here not there, now not then, took this decision, not that, to bring us here and now. (Williams 2007d: 186) In terms of transformation, this is related to self-knowledge, self-critique, and the problems of power (Williams 2012: 304–306). This is apparent in his work on renunciation. Throughout his work, Williams raises the issue of renunciation in general terms. In On Christian Theology (2000a) however, he addresses renunciation in specific terms. He reflects on the human condition, which is a “damaged or needy condition” (Williams 2000a: 209). He observes that there has been a profound decline in trust in the public square (Williams 2000a: 220). So, we need to change from “a place of loss or need” in order to “to set aside this damaged or needy condition, this flawed identity, so that in dispossessing ourselves of it we are able to become possessed of a different identity, given in the rite, not constructed by negotiation and cooperation like other kinds of identity” (emphasis added, Williams 2000a: 209). These “dramas of transition” (Williams 2000a: 214) call for an experience of renunciation, which he expresses in different ways as “dispossession”, “surrender”, “symbolic death and dispossession”, “surrender of control”, “renunciation of control”, “the renunciation of Christ” and “giving away power” (Williams 2000a: 209, 210, 217, 218, 233). In a spirit of desubjectivation, Williams proclaims that “the act of a new creation is an act of utter withdrawal. Death is the beginning of the new order, and this divine dispossession points back to questions about the very nature of the creative act itself, as more like renunciation than dominance” (Williams 200a: 216). This is the death of the subject, promising the birth of a new subject, because the “relinquishing of power in the face of impending violence of desertion and denial paradoxically allows Jesus of this narrative to shape and structure the situation, to determine the identity (as guests, as recipients of an unfailing divine hospitality) of the other agents in the story” (Williams 1992: 216). In terms of a self-transcending relation, Williams sees potential for positive human change. That is, the death of the subject can be followed by the birth of the new subject:

A theology of transformation 95 A doctrine like that of the Trinity tells us that the very life of God is a yielding or giving-over into the life of an Other, a ‘negation’ in the sense of refusing to settle for the idea that normative life or personal identity is to be conceived in terms of self-enclosed and self-sufficient units. The negative is associated with the ‘ek-static’, the discovery of identity in self-transcending relation. (Williams 2007a: xiii) The ecstatic is closely related to the self-transcending relation. In practical terms, the ecstatic is the dynamic of transition in a self-transcending relation. By ecstatic, this does not mean we “cease to be a subject” as the sense of “separateness” never disappears (Williams 2007b: 12).1 Interpreting Lossky then, Williams contends that ecstasy is “the state of selfforgetfulness which is the precondition for the subject to be filled with the grace and love of God, the ‘kenosis’ which precedes exaltation” (Williams 2007b: 13). In terms of remorse, this represents the empathic or the human dimension of intersubjectivity. In focusing on remorse, Williams reminds us of the importance of the visceral, as well as the cerebral. In other words, transformation is a change of heart as well as a change of thinking. Furthermore, remorse is symptomatic of the importance of the other. It is a measure of the loss of the other (Williams 2000b: 98–99). The concept of remorse works in personal and political contexts. In the face of power, for example, we “are still capable of seeing failure or betrayal as inner and personal wounds, injuries to a person’s substance” (Williams 2000b: 97). Moreover, “denials and refusals of remorse represent a passionate protest against the inexorable conclusion that my past is not under control” (Williams 2000b: 106). This is about the necessity of “living consciously in time” (Williams 2000b: 109). It entails, “the relinquishing of an identity placed beyond challenge or judgement” and “a loss of power” (Williams 2000b: 111). In fact, failure in remorse “is failure to find ourselves in the other” (Williams 2000b: 125). In an interesting parallel, the moral philosopher Raimond Gaita (2004) underlines the value of remorse (Gaita 2004: 47–49), which is grounded in the other (Gaita 2004: 75). In conclusion, there are some general resonances between Williams and my approach. Of course, some of the differences relate to open questions about the God-world relation (Ogden 2007). My focus, however, is on violence in the world. For practical reasons, the analysis of his work here has been limited in scope. Williams, nevertheless, sees the importance of transformation, working at personal and cultural levels. With Williams, Hegel is an important source. He is aware of the limits of Hegel’s system, but we sense a Hegelian inspired dialectical movement at the heart of his approach (Williams 2007b: 31). That is, we move from God to the world and back to God within the life of God’s self. In Williams then, humankind resides in the life of God. So, without sacrificing difference, God is

96 A theology of transformation engaged with the world and we are engaged with God. Moreover, because of divine intimacy, a self-transcending relation is built into the very structure of existence. It is premised on the promise of the new. This means humankind can change. Furthermore, Williams articulates a contemporary ecclesiology, affirming the church’s potential contribution to the public square. So, then, our theology is for the sake of others, and ultimately, it is also for the sake of the world. This is because we have “a vision of human dignity and mutual human obligation” where “the dignity of every person is non-negotiable” (Williams 2012: 306). This means we are called to work for justice for all and for the sake of the common good (Williams 2012: 307). In fact, the church’s credibility is found in working for the common good, for “we are trustees: we own nothing absolutely, but are commissioned to communicate to others in spiritual and in directly practical ways the assurance that God has given us” (Williams 2012: 303). In Williams then, the life of the church is inherently political.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza Fiorenza is interested in transformation, which is often expressed by her in terms of justice, emancipation, and inclusion. Fiorenza does not labour with the philosophical development of an explicit ontology of transformation. However, there is an implicit ontology of transformation in her work, which manifests itself in the development and application of her key concepts. Moreover, her network of concepts reveals something of her anthropology, and her theology of transformation. In terms of anthropology, it is inclusive and affirming, recognising the innate dignity of all persons. So, persons with rights have a right to equality and justice. Persons with agency are capable of thinking, choosing, and acting. Persons in relation means the intersubjective is a given. In terms of her theology of transformation, all this is realized in the emancipation and empowerment of people (wo/men). So, Fiorenza does not necessarily refer to the term transformation, but the outcome of emancipation and empowerment reveals a deep transformation at both personal and cultural levels. In fact, for her, you cannot have personal transformation without cultural (political) transformation. So, then, the “structures of domination” have to be named, opposed, and dismantled (Fiorenza 2014: 491). Moreover, this transformation is an integrated process, where personal transformation is dependent on political-cultural transformation. For her, the two levels of analysis, the micro-level and the macro-level are inseparable. It is a both/and approach. Certainly, she is an advocate for individuals taking action in order to address issues of inequality and social exclusion, but the long-term effectiveness of personal change depends on changes at the macro-level. In all, she has a deep sense of conviction about our call to divine resistance. To this end, she has developed an integrated set of concepts. They are integrated by her theological vision for human and social transformation. The main concepts are the

A theology of transformation 97 baseleia of God, wo/men, kyriarchy, G*d, empire, ekklesia, and above all, an opposition to empire. The key theological premise in her work is found in the notion of the reign (basilea) of G*d (Fiorenza 1994: 118ff). This is the creative and emancipatory presence of G*d in world (already/but not yet) (Fiorenza 2000: 28). Its central image is that of a festive meal. In fact, the central symbolic actualization of the basileia vision of Jesus is not the cultic meal, but the festive table of a royal banquet or wedding feast (Fiorenza 1994: 119). In this context, Galatians 3:28 is significant text for Fiorenza, showing what basileia life is like. Fiorenza has a complex and finely nuanced view of gender, which is captured by her term wo/men. This term itself is an important expression of her theological vision. The term wo/men encompasses a range of marginalized persons, including non-violent men: As already noted, since the term “woman/women” is often read as referring to white women only, my unorthodox writing of the term seeks to draw to the attention of readers that those kyriarchal structures that determine women’s lives and status also impact the lives and status of men of subordinated races, classes, countries, and religions, albeit in different ways. Hence the spelling wo/men seeks to communicate that whenever I speak of wo/men I mean to include not only all women but also oppressed and marginalized men. (Fiorenza 2000: 57, note 3) In Fiorenza, the concept of gender has a descriptive function identifying relational configurations. But gender also has a critical role, that is, in identifying persons outside the patriarchal circle of power. This is similar to my model, where political rationalities of entitlement form and inform gender patterns, where others are sacrificed for the sake of the species. Fiorenza uses kyriarchy instead of patriarchy “to refer to a socio-political and cultural religious system of domination that structures the identity slots open to members of society in terms of race, gender, nation, age, economy, and sexuality and configures them in terms of pyramidal relations of domination and submission, profit and exploitation” (Fiorenza 2014: 493–494). Influenced by intersectional analysis, Fiorenza’s notion of kyriarchy resonates at a number of levels with my dispositif of strongman politics (Fiorenza 2000: 95). In other words, it is an ensemble of key elements, held together for strategic purposes. Fiorenza recognizes the impact of kyriarchy on theological discourse, as “G*d -discourses are not just rhetorical, that is, persuasive address, they are also ideological communication enmeshed in power relations” (Fiorenza 2007a: 113). Subsequently, the nature of theological discourse is critical for her. To this end, she refers to God as G*d. Like the orthodox Jewish custom, she writes “G*d in this broken way to emphasize the inadequacy of

98 A theology of transformation language to speak about the divine” (Fiorenza 2000: 1, note 1). She also points to the problem of a strongman construal of God, for “Scripture seeks to avoid the essentialist reification of the Divine as male by prohibiting any image-making of G*d, biblical and traditional G*d-language is predominantly masculine” (Fiorenza 2007a: 115). In time, the category of empire becomes increasingly important for Fiorenza. With ancient Rome, for example, empire shapes kyriarchy. With modern Western culture, empire gives birth to the dispositif of the strongman. For Fiorenza, the key here is for scholarship “to look critically at the rhetoric of domination” (Fiorenza 2007b: 5). The so-called historic language of “subordination and control” is, after all, “performative language”, that is, it has real impact (Fiorenza 2007b: 6). In response, scholars are called to oppose and counter “the language of empire” (Fiorenza 2007b: 7). This theme of opposition to structures of domination becomes more and more explicit in Fiorenza (2014: 499, 501). Further, all this has ecclesiological implications. That is, the church itself is called to incarnate a space of freedom as a radical alternative to empire. So, then, the importance of the term ekklesia, “as a political term of ancient democracy, which entails equality, inclusivity, citizenship, and decision making power for all members of the Christian community” (Fiorenza 2000: 10, 71–72). Finally, a pivotal biblical text in Fiorenza concerns the anonymous woman who anointed Jesus (Mark 14:9). This woman’s extravagant gesture is a prophetic sign-action. In fact, it is “a politically dangerous story” prefiguring the future prospect of radical transformation (Fiorenza 1994: xiii–xiv). This text then is a theological and ethical touchstone for churches. In conclusion, Fiorenza and Williams are from different theological traditions, but both of them identify the problem of imposed limits. They also affirm the transformative nature of the reign of G*d. Subsequently, they envisage a transformative process, working its way out at both personal and cultural levels of analysis. In particular, this means faith has political implications. For Fiorenza, she is focused on praxis, but implicitly, her theology presumes an ontology of transformation, which is expressed in the language of emancipation. For Williams, this political dimension is explicitly an ontological process (i.e., self-transcending relation) with practical outcomes. So, what are the implications here for my work? Fiorenza and Williams are both critical of the church, for failing to engage in politics in this way. In the light of their work, my aim is to give such political engagement a specificity, in terms of the role counter-discourses and counter-practices play in forming counter-points to strongman politics. In Fiorenza and Williams, the transformation is described in general terms. My aim is to give the concept and the theology of transformation a specificity that is grounded in my version of desubjectivation. In Fiorenza and Williams, gender issues and patterns are important (more so in Fiorenza). My aim is to give gender patterns a specificity in terms of the concept of excessive entitlement, proprietorial thinking, and the power of appropriation.

A theology of transformation 99

The triptych of Nicodeumus (Jn 3:1–15; 7:45–52; 19:38–42) The triptych frames the transformation of Nicodemus, demonstrating the gospel’s theme of life in the new age. This entails an emplacement of three panels in the gospel space. The panels are held together by a narrative hinge, which is found in the tension between, on the one hand, the meeting between Nicodemus and Jesus and, on the other hand, the shadow of the strongmen. In the first panel, Nicodemus seeks out Jesus. As a leader of the Jews, Nicodemus is an entitled man. In the second panel, Nicodemus intervenes for the sake of Jesus, but to the vexation of the strongmen (cf. chief priests, Pharisees). In the third panel, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea receive the body of Jesus, because Pilate, a Roman strongman, granted them permission. The significance of the triptych is that it discloses the transformation of Nicodemus, which I explore using my construal of desubjectivation. In preparation for this, I look at the concept of God and the importance of immanence. This helps to explain my theological perspective.

After God? What can I say about God? Clearly, there are major ongoing theological and philosophical issues here concerning transcendence and immanence, theism and non-theism, dualism and monism. But I am not attempting to resolve these matters. Instead, I am clarifyng my theological position, which undergirds my reading of John's gospel, and my understanding of transformation. In this light, “The death of the metaphysical God thus presents us with a great danger but also a unique opportunity to find a relationship to the divine that can endow our lives with deep importance” (Wrathall 2003: 84). So, then, my starting point is the widespread and intractable problem of violence, especially gender-based violence. This determines my theological posture, that is, the way I position myself in relation to the problem, and how I harness theological sources. The driving question here relates to discerning grounds for hope, here and now, for transforming violent subjects. So, this theological posture underscores my emphasis on immanence, and present signs of the new. In the light of my focus on violence, and the gender pattern of entitlement, I am uncomfortable about using the term God, because it has been inscribed by iterations of the strongman. Historically, God has been construed in strongman discourses as king or judge. Through the prism of king or judge, God has had an unlimited sense of entitlement. In fact, God’s sense of entitlement is often presented as a divine attribute (cf. almighty, sovereign). Of course, God is uniquely qualified to be the sovereign exception. Who else is beyond the law? In the Hebrew Scriptures, for example, “God tested Abraham” (Gen 22:1). Theoretically, this story could be construed as a study of entitlement, “Take your son, your only son Isaac,

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whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one the mountains that I will show you” (Gen 22:2). Overall, the interpretation of this text is contested. The implied sense of entitlement, however, is accentuated by the contrast between God’s demand and the preciousness of Abraham’s son. In fact, the writer highlights that it was Abraham’s “only son”. There are no other sons or daughters to compensate for such a loss. Moreover, this son is the one “whom you love”. Certainly, these are important issues. However, the power of the story lies in the presumed entitlement of God. Whether or not this constitutes an excessive sense of entitlement is a critical question here. In fact, I think this question drives the debate. Ironically, we could argue that Abraham tested God. Be that as it may, in the myriad of strongman inscriptions of God, which permeate the church and the world, God is the founding transcendent other (i.e., divine exception). At a psychological level, we want this God to be transcendent – holy, other, absolute – making decisions for us, but not necessarily setting Abrahamic tests of faith. So, I use the term God with some reservation. With the contemporary marginalization of God and church in society, however, prime ministers, presidents, dictators, and demagogues now try to fill the void, frequently adopting markers of transcendent status. Of course, the nature and extent to which the religious has infused the political is debatable. Nonetheless, the strongman dispositif of late modernity, with its discourses, practices, institutions and exemplars, evokes the messianic. The strongman, however, is often divinized by his own narcissism, as well as our mystification of power and the spectacle of power. We love a parade. And the strongmen seem to be winning, because of aggrievement, learned ignorance, psychological needs, and this mystification of power. In this sense, there is some truth in Deleuze’s insight: But of course, we never desire against our interests, because interest always follows and finds itself where desire has placed it. We cannot shut out the scream of the Reich: the masses were not deceived; at a particular time, they actually wanted a fascist regime! (Foucault and Deleuze 1977: 215) Philosophically, we live in the age after God, where “the divine is not elsewhere but is the emergent creativity that figures, disfigures, and refigures the infinite fabric of life” (Taylor 2007: xvii–xviii). But the caption after God begs the question what next? Perhaps we can narrow the focus here? In thinking about God, Rosemary Radford Ruether reflects, “There is no God sitting on a throne in a great tower room in the skies. But at the same time, I knew that there is a divine reality, but one has to look for it elsewhere, in the life energy that is in and through and under all things” (Ruether 2014: 30). So, in keeping with the promise of the new, surely “God must die so that God might be reborn” (Kearney 2010: xvi). In this

A theology of transformation 101 vein, faith requires the desubjectivation of God, dispossessed of anthropomorphisms (e.g., God is masculine) and politicizations (e.g., God is king). And surely the meaning of the cross lies in the desubjectivation of God? Afterall, this is the God, who cannot be named (e.g., Ex 3:14 “I am who I am”), but who is disclosed in the new. So, then, the theological focus here is on signs of the new, here and now.

The lens of eternal life My premise for a theology of transformation is the reign of God, but using the Gospel of John’s variation of eternal life, emphasising immanence and the impact of an immediate future, promising personal and cultural transformations here and now. In terms of my theological approach then, I do not mean the articulation of set of dogmatic positions, but rather, it is a weaving together of interrelated theological emphases, forming a theological posture expressing something of how I envisage and conduct theological reflection. This entails a shift in emphasis from God to new life. This is in tandem with a shift from a forensic, often pessimistic analysis of humanity, which has dogged the church, to an emphasis on the spiritual and political transformation of people and communities. This is a theology of the life of the new age here and now (Ashton 2007: 399ff). This is a theology of the inherent possibility of the new. To explicate this, let’s turn to the triptych of Nicodemus (Jn 3:1–15; 7:45–52; 19:38–42). In many ways, the John 3:15 reference to “eternal life” (life in the new age) represents the climax of Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus. It is the key concept in the narrative. Moreover, John 3:16 takes its cue from this text, focusing on, and reinforcing the promise of the new. Of course, the new in John’s Gospel is realized in the incarnate Jesus, here and now. The new here also represents what Tillich calls “the depth of existence” (Tillich 1962: 70).2 The theological horizon could also be described using Richard Kearney’s term as a “microeschatology”, where the divine is discovered in “the epiphanies of the everyday” (Kearney 2010: 52). So, then, life in the new age is a different way of living, based on a different way of seeing, which has been brought about by being born from above. Through the word made flesh, the world is now different. In this vein, I interpret the concept of transformation. That is, life in the new age underlines the possibility of newness in the present. Transformation, then, is possible but it is disruptive. And this is what it means to be born from above. Like Hannah Arendt’s natality (1998: 247), my theology of transformation celebrates that the created order is pregnant with possibilities,3 where natality “contrasts with mortality and marks the human capacity for beginning something anew, not ending” (Kang 2013: 120). It presumes the fecundity of material existence. Accordingly, this is less a theology of becoming, and more a theology of the new. All this is in the spirit of the earth’s maternal gesture in the priestly creation story (Gen 1:12), where the earth brings

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forth life, which means “Let something which is within come out” (Westermann 1984: 125). In summary, I develop an immanent account of transformation. Behind the term immanent, however, there lies a protracted theological and philosophical debate about transcendence and immanence. This is complicated. On the one hand, I am sympathetic to Charles Taylor’s work on the immanent frame, and the exclusion of the transcendent (Taylor 2003: 47). On the other, there is a binary, consisting of transcendence/immanence (Dubilet 2018: 4–6), which devalues the immanent for “whenever immanence is interpreted as immanent to Something, we can be sure that this Something reintroduces the transcendent” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 45). Politically, the strongman claims to be the source of transcendence. Psychologically, we are drawn to the spectacle of these populist beacons of transcendence. In terms of sovereignty, this is the return of the king and “the fantasy of its return persists” (Butler 1997b: 78). So, I am not attempting to resolve the transcendence/immanence debate. Instead, I am focusing on the immanent. This is partly because of my theological commitments, but also, it is because of my ethical commitment to addressing the problem of violence, here and now.4 I use the triptych of Nicodemus as a way of exploring the immanent nature of transformation, and the challenge it poses to the politics of entitlement.

The transformation of Nicodemus The triptych frames the transformation of Nicodemus, exemplifying the gospel’s theme of life in the new age. On a technical note, I have chosen to use the term triptych to describe the three-part story of Nicodemus. Historically, the triptych can be found in art and architecture, especially religious art and architecture. The altarpiece is a classic example (Jensen 2004: 93). Often the panels were hinged (i.e., three-fold). In the triptych of Nicodemus, the narrative hinge is found in the tension between his encounter with Jesus and the shadow of strongmen. In the first panel, Nicodemus seeks out Jesus. However, as a leader of the Jews, Nicodemus is a representative strongman of the religio-politics of his era. In the second panel, Nicodemus intervenes to the chagrin of the strongmen (cf. chief priests, Pharisees). In the third panel, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea receive the body of Jesus. Nonetheless, they could only perform this gesture because Pilate gave them his permission. In fact, this is Rome’s permission. But let’s have a closer look at the triptych. In the first panel (Jn 3:1–15), Nicodemus seems conflicted. On the one hand, Nicodemus expresses respect and admiration for Jesus, addressing him as Rabbi saying “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God” (Jn 3:3). On the other hand, there is a note of caution, because he “came to Jesus by night” (Jn 3:1). Is this the caution of privilege? That is,

A theology of transformation 103 entitled men have power, but they are also aware of the risks and the threats. Intentionally, the writer introduces Nicodemus as an entitled man in the first panel (“a leader of the Jews”; “a teacher of Israel”). Somewhat ironically, Nicodemus refers to Jesus as teacher (Jn 3:2, “Rabbi”). In return, Jesus addresses Nicodemus hinting at the latter’s entitlement “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” It is partly rhetorical, emphasizing Nicodemus’s importance and privilege, but it is also ironic, for as an entitled or privileged man you should know this. Incidentally, this reading of Nicodemus, as an entitled man is reinforced by the first panel’s literary setting, that is, it follows, almost immediately, the cleansing of the temple. Certainly, the temple as an institution is a symbol of strongman politics. Historically, Galilee and Judea were client states, and “the primary face of Roman rule over Judea was the Temple” (Horsley 2008: 90). In the second panel of the triptych (Jn 7:45–52), we see early signs of the transformation of Nicodemus. As a subject, he is in the process of being undone and re-formed. So, then, the focus shifts from Nicodemus approaching Jesus cautiously (Jn 3:1–15) to him challenging the strongmen resolutely (Jn 7:45 “the chief priests and Pharisees”). He challenges them carefully, but with resolve. This is calculated resistance. But first, let me put this in perspective. As part of a client state, the chief priests, Pharisees, and temple police, are under the reign of the strongman politics of Rome. Therefore, it is important to note the entrance of the temple police. They return from an encounter with Jesus. The chief priests and Pharisees greet them with surprise, if not indignation, “Why did you not arrest him?” Unexpectedly, their reply emphasizes the new authority of Jesus, as they cry, “Never has anyone spoken like this”. In the same breath, their response constitutes an implicit critique of the authority of the chief priests and Pharisees. It seems that the police have had a limit-experience. In response, the strongmen issue both a threat and a rebuke, “Has anyone of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him?” In the face of threat, however, Nicodemus “who was one of them” intervenes. Nicodemus, “who had gone to Jesus before” speaks truth to power with a counter-discourse based on the law (Jn 7:50). Earlier, the Pharisees had used the law to condemn the crowd (Jn 7:49 “which does not know the law – they are accursed”). Now the same law is used to question their own conduct. Yes, Nicodemus draws attention to “our law”, using it to subvert the strongmen. In fact, he draws a line (and notice their indignation). It is an unpretentious, but potent exercise in truth-telling, as Nicodemus issues a critique, which constitutes a counterpoint, that is, a form of opposition. Notice the transition. In the first panel, Nicodemus was on the cusp of a transformative experience, but he was in two minds, eventually vanishing from sight. In the second panel, however, something has changed, as Nicodemus institutes and constitutes a limit in the face of the entitled men. In the life of Nicodemus, this transition represents “a new way of

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being, which is akin to a virtue, a mode of action” (Foucault 2011: 14). Furthermore, in the overall gospel, there is a theological movement, or series of movements, from darkness to light. In the triptych, there is also a movement from darkness to light, which the writer underlines first, by emphasizing how Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night (Jn 3:2) and second, by referring back to that first encounter in the third panel (Jn 19:39). Moreover, coming to the light is associated with being true (3:21; 8:12) and truth-telling (parrhesia 16:29, “Now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech”). And truth is a central theme in the Gospel of John (aletheia 1:14 17, 4:24, 8:32, 16:29, 18:38). In the third panel (Jn 19:38-42), Nicodemus takes his challenge further, demonstrating what it means to live the truth. In terms of narrative context, Jesus has been crucified, and the soldiers have pierced his side with a spear (Jn 19:34). Joseph of Arimathea (“a disciple of Jesus”) approaches Pilate and “Pilate gave him permission” (Jn 19:39). This is what strongmen can do. They have the right over life and death. The transformed Nicodemus is here too, under the gaze of Rome. With Joseph, they enact an implicit critique of Roman violence by receiving the body of Jesus with generosity and care, in a profoundly feminine gesture. It seems fitting, that like a blessing “they laid Jesus there” (Jn 19:42). So, then, in the movement from the second panel to the third, Nicodemus moves from a measured discursive intervention against the entitled men to an open and compassionate symbolic act, all under the shadow of Rome. This is counter-conduct. In this light, Fernando Segovia’s description of the Gospel of John fits well with the figure of Nicodemus, that is, this is “a discursive intervention within the imperial-colonial framework of Rome” (Segovia 2009: 189). In summary, I use the figure of Nicodemus to illustrate the process of divine desubjectivation. I concentrate on the world of the text. Clearly, there are cosmological, cultural, and philosophical differences between the contexts of John and late modernity. In John, these differences are reflected in numerous dualisms (e.g., spirit/flesh; Jesus/Satan). In terms of the Jesus/ Satan dualism, for example, there is potential resonance here between this first century dualism and a twenty-first century dualism of Jesus and violence (but without the mythological accretions). In a wider exercise, I would pursue these connections. Nevertheless, this is an outline of my theology of transformation, which is the undoing and re-forming of the subject. It premised on the life of the new age, manifesting as opposition to entitlement. So, the triptych of Nicodemus articulates an experience of divine desubjectivation. That is, the triptych reveals a process of transformation, though the experience is not without ambiguity (he “came to Jesus by night”). Nevertheless, Nicodemus undergoes a transformation, which sets him in opposition to the strongmen and strongman politics itself. This opposition is critical at two levels. First, in the world of the text, the interplay between characters, and across the panels, expresses a limit-

A theology of transformation 105 experience impacting Nicodemus. For Nicodemus, the limit-experience is about transgression and threshold. So, then, he has transgressed boundaries by challenging his peers. This is “agency-as-resistance” (Mahmood 2005, 2012: 32). He is in a new place, as a new person (born anew). It also represents a crossing-over to a new threshold, culminating in the reception of the body of Jesus in the third panel. Second, the triptych itself constitutes a discursive intervention, providing clues for our own political engagements. In other words, the limit-experience will transform and embolden. Nicodemus’s encounter with Jesus is a limit-experience. It is transgression and threshold, inaugurating his experience of divine desubjectivation. As transgression, he breaks the unwritten rules of entitled men. As threshold, he has been born anew. He has been undone and re-formed. He is now living a truth-telling life (Jn 7:45–52). It is a new mode of existence. Furthermore, the significance of the theme of transformation in the gospel is accentuated by a contrast between the first panel of Nicodemus and the narrative of the Samaritan woman. With Nicodemus, he “came to Jesus by night”. He was cautious (Jn 3:1) and incredulous (Jn 3:9, “How can these things be?”). In contrast, the Samaritan woman met Jesus in daylight (Jn 4:6, “It was about noon”). She was not privileged. In fact, the Samaritan woman was a doubly marginalized figure (Samaritan and female). Nonetheless, she is a theological interlocuter with Jesus, seeking truth, exercising an ‘apostolic’ ministry, and realizing life in new age (i.e., living water). In contrast to Nicodemus, her transformation is dramatic. The Samaritan woman does not have the luxury of privilege. She is a survivor. In conclusion, my theology of transformation is premised on a positive anthropology, working immanently, which is grounded in an experience of divine desubjectivation. This is a transformative, immanent, embodied, intersubjective experience, working at personal and cultural levels. I use the story of Nicodemus to illuminate my theology of transformation.5 The story is a three-part editorial configuration (John 3:1–15, 7:45–52, 19:38–42).6 It frames the transformation of Nicodemus, demonstrating life in the new age. However, I need to make two qualifications. First, in my interpretation, I concentrate on the world of the text (Schneiders 1991: 132ff; Ogden 2013), with some historical nuancing. Second, the Greek word anothen, which I have translated as born anew, could also be translated as born again or born from above (Brown 1966: 130). What’s more, I am interpreting the idea of being born from above as a catalyst for a limit-experience.7 The triptych of Nicodemus then signifies a counterdiscourse to the politics of the strongmen, where to “deconstruct and reimagine biblical visions is to reclaim the biblical power of transformation” (Fiorenza 2007b: 192). So, I make a political reading of Nicodemus. My focus has been largely “on the world of the narrative: the world constructed – aesthetically crafted, strategically arranged and politically moulded – by the text” (Segovia 2009: 161). The Gospel of John, moreover, “is a text that conveys, in and through such religious concerns and pursuits, a sharp sense

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of the political” (Segovia 2009: 156). Subsequently, the text points us back to the world. So, how does this theology of transformation work in practice?

Notes 1 Williams was influenced by Lossky, for example, Vladimir Lossky (2002: 208) concerning “‘astonishment’, ‘wonder’, ‘ravishing’ of the spirit in a condition of silence or tranquillity… sometimes called ‘ecstasy’… for in it a man leaves his own being and is no longer conscious whether he is in this life or in the world to come; he belongs to God and no longer to himself; he is his own master no more but is guided by the Holy Spirit”. 2 This is reminiscent of Tillich’s depth of existence (1962: 70), where eternal joy is attained “by breaking through the surface, by penetrating the deep things of ourselves, of our world, and of God”. And for a different perspective on depth, Connolly (2010: 186), following Merleau Ponty, considers depth from the perspective of perception, so that to have “the experience of depth is to feel things looking at you, to feel yourself as object”. 3 Arendt (1998: 247). “The miracle that saves the world, the realm of human affairs, from its normal, ‘natural’ ruin is ultimately the fact of natality, in which the faculty of action is ontologically rooted. It is in other words, the birth of new men and the new beginning, that action they are capable of by virtue of being born”. 4 I think Dubilet is right to challenge the way transcendence, in our practices and thinking, dominates immanence. But it is not entirely clear to me how Dubilet accounts for difference. Of course, he is exploring the idea of complexity within immanence, which calls to mind another debate about dualism and monism. Perhaps the following words of Mark Taylor are too strong then, but they come to mind, “monism – however it is disguised – is so committed to the world as it is that every possibility of critical reflection and transformative practice disappears” (Taylor 2007: 298). In response, Taylor’s work on complexity and the virtual is promising in this regard (Taylor 2007: 44ff). In Christian terms, Trinitarian thinking attempts to address these tensions. 5 For different readings of Nicodemus: see Whitenton (2020) for a reading of Nicodemus in terms of an (ancient) audience-oriented response, and Falque (2012) who presents a complex metaphysical reading. 6 Cf. Fiorenza (2013: 189). I am focusing on the world of the triptych. Subsequently, insights are generated because of the resonance between it and the modern context. Nevertheless, if we step back from the panels and examine the gospel as a whole, from an historical perspective, then there are some interesting nuances. There are polemical references to Jews in the gospel (“the Jews”). Historically, these references have been exploited in anti-Jewish discourses and practices. One response is to say that these references in John represent internal tensions between Jewish Christians, who have been expelled from the synagogue (John 9:22; 12:42; 16:2), and those who remained behind. The irony is that these Christians now behave like strongmen. After all, Nicodemus is introduced as “a leader of the Jews” in the first panel. But that is speculation. Moreover, an antiJewish sentiment is not immediately evident in the triptych itself, and the triptych is my primary focus. 7 Falque (2012: 75ff). How does my born anew differ from Falque’s rebirth? The answer to this question is complex, lying beyond the scope of my present book. The main issue, however, is that we are working on the basis of different theological and philosophical premises. In Falque’s work, the attraction is his

A theology of transformation 107 sophisticated approach to the transformation of finitude. Nevertheless, there is a strange juxtaposition in his work between, on the one hand, a realist like reading of the resurrection as a singular extra-ordinary event, and, on the other hand, the metamorphosis of finitude that the resurrection initiates in the frame of finitude. In contrast, and it bears repeating, my work focuses on the immanent, working within the frame of finitude, post-metaphysically, with an eye on the political. We have different theological trajectories.

References Arendt, H. (1998). The Human Condition. 2nd edition, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Ashton, J. (2007). Understanding the Fourth Gospel. New edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brown, R.E. (1966). The Gospel According to John I-XII, New York: The Anchor Bible. Butler, J. (1997b). Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, New York and London: Routledge. Connolly, W.E. (2010). “Materialities of experience” in D. Coole and S. Frost eds., New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 178–200. Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1994). G. Burchell and H. Tomlinson eds., What is Philosophy? London and New York: Verso. Delport, K.M. (2018). “Interior intimo meo: Rowan Williams on the Self” in Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 4.2, 471–504. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.175 70/stj.2018.v4n2.a22 Dubilet, A. (2018). The Self-Emptying Subject: Kenosis and Immanence, Medieval to Modern, New York: Fordham University Press. Falque, E. (2012). The Metamorphosis of Finitude: An Essay on Birth and Resurrection, trans. G. Hughes, New York: Fordham University Press. Fiorenza, E.S. (1994). In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, 10th anniversary edition, New York: Crossroad Publishing Company. Fiorenza, E.S. (2000). Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation, New York and London: Continuum. Fiorenza, E.S. (2007a). “G*d – The Many-Named” in J.D. Caputo and M.J. Scanlon eds., Transcendence and Beyond: A Postmodern Inquiry, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 109–126. Fiorenza, E.S. (2007b). The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007. Fiorenza, E.S. (2013). “Biblical interpretation and critical commitment: The Gospel of John” in Changing Horizons: Explorations in Feminist Interpretation, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 181–194. Fiorenza, E.S. (2014). “‘I have not come to bring peace but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34)”, in Empowering Memory and Movement: Thinking and Working across Borders, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 491–511. Foucault, M. (2011). F. Gros ed., The Courage of Truth: The Government of Self

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and Others II, Lectures at the College De France 1983–1984, trans. A.I. Davidson, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Foucault, M. and Deleuze, G. (1977). “Intellectuals and power: A conversation between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze” in D.F. Bouchard ed., Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, trans. D.F. Bouchard and S. Simon. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Gaita, R. (2004). Good and Evil: An Absolute Conception, London and New York: Routledge. Horsley, R.A. (2008). “Jesus and empire” in R.A. Horsley ed., In the Shadow of the Empire: Reclaiming the Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance. Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox Press, 75–93. Jensen, R.M. (2004). The Substance of Things Seen: Art, Faith, and the Christian Community, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans Publishing. Kang, N. (2013). Cosmopolitan Theology: Reconstituting Planetary Hospitality, Neighbour-Love, and Solidarity in an Uneven World, St Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press. Kearney, R. (2010). Anatheism: Returning to God after God, New York: Columbia University Press. Lossky, V. (2002). The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Crestwood, New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. Mahmood, S. (2005, 2012). Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Myers, B. (2012). Christ the Stranger: The Theology of Rowan Williams, London and New York: T&T Clark International. Ogden S.G. (2007). The Presence of God in the World: A Contribution to Postmodern Christology based on the Theologies of Paul Tillich and Karl Rahner, Bern: Peter Lang. Ogden, S.G. (2013). “Wisdom as well as facts” in G.C. Jenks ed., The Once and Future Scriptures: Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church, Salem, Oregon: Polebridge Press, 43–61. Ruether, R.R. (2014). “The death of God revisited: Implications for today” in D.J. Peterson and G.M. Zbaraschuk eds., Resurrecting the Death of God: The Origins, Influence, and Return of Radical Theology. New York: State University of New York Press, 23–41. Schneiders S.M. (1991). The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture, New York: Harper Collins. Segovia, F.F. (2009). “The gospel of John” in F.F. Segovia and R.S. Sugirtharajah eds., A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament Writings, London and New York: T&T Clark, 156–193. Taylor, C. (2003). “Closed world structures” in M.A. Wrathall ed., Religion after Metaphysics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 47–68. Taylor, M.C. (2007). After God, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Tillich, P. (1962). “The depth of existence” in The Shaking of the Foundations, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 59–70. Westermann, C. (1984). Genesis 1-11: A Commentary, trans. J. J. Scullion, London: SPCK. Whitenton M.R. (2020). Configuring Nicodemus: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Complex Characterisation, London and New York: T&T Clark.

A theology of transformation 109 Williams, R. (1992). “‘Know thyself’: What kind of an injunction?” in M. McGhee ed., Philosophy, Religion and the Spiritual Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 211–227. Williams, R. (2000a). On Christian Theology, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Williams, R. (2000b). Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement, Edinburgh: T&T Clark. Williams, R. (2007a). “Author’s introduction” in M. Highton ed., Wrestling with Angels: Conversations in Modern Theology, Grand Rapids Michigan, Cambridge U.K: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, xiii–xix. Williams, R. (2007b). “Lossky, the via negativa and the foundations of theology” in M. Highton ed., Wrestling with Angels: Conversations in Modern Theology, Grand Rapids Michigan, Cambridge U.K: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1–24. Williams, R. (2007d). “The suspicion of suspicion: Wittgenstein and Bonhoeffer” in M. Highton ed., Wrestling with Angels: Conversations in Modern Theology, Grand Rapids Michigan, Cambridge U.K: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 186–202. Williams, R. (2012). Faith in the Public Square, London: Bloomsbury. Williams, R. (2014). The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language, London: Bloomsbury. Wrathall, M.A. (2003). “Between the earth and the sky: Heidegger on life after the death of God” in M.A. Wrathall ed., Religion after Metaphysics, Cambridge University Press, 69–87.

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A theology of resistance I am interested in the transformation of violent subjects. I focus on an excessive sense of entitlement as a pre-eminent factor in controlling behaviour and violent actions, interpreting entitlement as a gender pattern that shapes subject formation. This pattern entails proprietorial thinking and the objectification of women, surfacing in a quasi-rights discourse expressing possession (my wife). Quasi-rights discourse is also a prominent feature of strongman politics (it’s my decision). The dispositif of strongman politics helps form gender patterns of entitlement as politics and gender are “mutually constitutive” (Scott 2018: xv). Theology, however, is called to engage with the dispositif of strongman politics, playing its part in addressing gender-based violence. This is more than a political gesture, which it is, it is also about the possibility of the new. It is important then to look at how my theology of transformation works at both personal and cultural levels. At the personal level, divine desubjectivation is an encounter with the new, which is grounded in eternal life. It is a limit-experience, transgressing and enabling. It is a dying and rising of the self, where identity is disrupted and re-born. In the remaking of the subject, a new sense of self and the world emerges. Certainly, I suspect many people of faith could resonate with this view. In practical terms, however, the transformation of violent subjects is problematic. Generally, it is incremental and limited. At the cultural level, divine desubjectivation is about the disruption of violent dispositifs. The key to this is found in the confrontation of the dispositif of strongman politics, which is a heterogenous ensemble of discourses and practices, institutions and exemplars. In constituting opposition, then, we embody a disruptive limit-experience for the dispositif of the strongman. At this level, transformation is an act of resistance. In the long term, transformation is like a preventative medicine program, that is, by challenging prevailing political rationalities that foster gender patterns of entitlement, we aspire to reduce the production and impact of violent subjects.1 So, in this chapter, and in order to explore transformation, I examine the use of spirituality and spiritual practices in working with violent subjects. DOI: 10.4324/9780429273520-6

Transforming violent subjects 111 This leads inevitably to an investigation of the dispositif of strongman politics generating political rationalities that shape subject formation. With this in place, I then explore the work of transformation in theological and ecclesiological contexts.

The entitled man: On why spiritual practices are not enough In this section, I explore the possibility of changing violent subjects in relation to spiritual practices. With spiritual practices, I am looking at the violent subject (i.e., perpetrator) developing a sense of an alternative pathway (e.g., I choose to act differently) as well as understanding the importance of self-critique and truth-telling (e.g., this is my problem). Philosophically, it is about developing a sense of agency, which is related to fostering reflexivity (Baaz, Mona, and Vinthagen: 2018: 70). In different ways, perpetrators and survivors have to develop a sense of self-reflexivity, that is, the capacity for self-critique. For the perpetrator, this means the outcome is likely to entail learning to value the other, and subsequently, relinquishing power over the other. For the survivor, this means the outcome is about valuing herself, subsequently, claiming power for herself in relation to others. In this context, this is “agency-as-resistance” (Mahmood 2005, 2012: 32). As a starting point, however, I examine a study of homicide, which I introduced in chapter 3, but set it now in a new context. Dobash and Dobash (2015) conducted an extensive three-year research project on homicide. The project examined official records, 866 case files, and 200 in-depth interviews. It examined 667 murders. It was gender nuanced as the study “was designed to investigate all types of murder committed by and against men, women, and children” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 245). As a group, IPV murderers were different. In all groups, the majority of men had similar life experiences (“serious antisocial and criminal behaviour”). Moreover, alcohol abuse was a common problem, “but least likely among the group of men who murdered an intimate partner” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 245). Moreover, IPV murderers “were more likely to have obtained educational qualifications” (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 248). In prison, they were least likely to experience mental health problems (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 255). In terms of crime, IPV murders were more likely, than other murders, to be planned actions (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 254). In conclusion, It is men’s orientations to and assumptions about the appropriate behaviour of women, their sense of entitlement over women, and the need to uphold their own moral universe that led to the murder of the vast majority of women partners. (Dobash and Dobash 2015: 253) So, then, this study underlines the pre-eminent role entitlement plays in IPV. Further, the pre-eminence of entitlement is also underlined in another study,

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which concluded that male “sexual jealousy and control are the primary motivations of men who kill female partners” (Miethe and Regoeczi 2016: 133). Other factors come into play, like financial issues, but “this type of instrumental motive is far less common than the jealousy and desire for control that often precipitates males’ lethal attacks on their intimate partners” (Miethe and Regoeczi 2016: 133). In summary, entitlement is a preeminent factor in IPV. Moreover, attempts have been made to address this by introducing spiritual practices. Nason-Clark and Fisher-Townsend (2015) conducted a substantial study on family violence (IPV), studying perpetrators in the context of a faithbased program. They worked with 55 men in a batterer’s support group. They interviewed them over four years. They also interviewed judges, parole officers, and program staff. In my words, the main research issue here concerned the difference that religion made in changing violent subjects. In preparation, they also considered criminal justice responses, feminist perspectives, and the complexities surrounding religion. A major issue in the study was accountability. Nevertheless, where “entitlement flourishes, the fruit of accountability is unlikely to grow” (Nason-Clark and Fisher-Townsend 2015: 164). In other words, the presence of an excessive sense of entitlement means significant change is unlikely to occur at the personal level of transformation. In retrospect, they conclude that accountability is critical in the process of transformation. In spiritual terms, accountability is a capacity for self-critique, leading to a commitment to truth-telling. In philosophical terms, it represents the realization of a sense of agency. So, what exactly does accountability entail: It involves owning what one has done and charting a way forward. It includes submitting oneself to the checks and balances imposed by others and eventually internalizing those very goals for oneself. It is very hard work, and the road to accountability and changed behaviour is long and arduous. It does not happen often in the life of someone who has been found guilty by the criminal justice system of battering an intimate partner. (Nason-Clark and Fisher-Townsend 2015: 170) It is important to have a closer look at aspects of this study, in relation to various spiritual factors. In developing an alternative pathway, Nason-Clark and FisherTownsend’s program included “charting a way forward”. In terms of training, their program included “submitting oneself to the checks and balances” as “changed behaviour is long and arduous”. The program reiterated the importance of practice and “very hard work”. In terms of an orientation towards and practice of care, Nason-Clark and FisherTownsend’s program emphasized “internalizing those very goals for oneself” (the program also provided community support and care). In terms of

Transforming violent subjects 113 truth-telling, and self-critique, their program made one “answerable for one’s behaviour” and “owning what one has done”. In terms of transformation, they observed it “does not happen often”. Certainly, they recognized many of these men had compounding “vulnerabilities” (e.g., drug abuse). In conclusion, nearly all the men benefitted, that is, “all of the men changed some of their attitudes and some of their behaviors” (Nason-Clark and Fisher-Townsend 2015: 206). Nevertheless, while some “men change a lot; most do not” (Nason-Clark and Fisher-Townsend 2015: 206). The sticking point was entitlement. As a comparison, Ross Deuchar conducted an extensive ethnographic study of male street gangs in four countries, across three continents, looking at religious and spiritual interventions (Deuchar 2018: 251). To begin, “disadvantaged young men often turn towards gang membership as a means of creating a plausible male identity against the backdrop of multiple forms of marginality” (Deuchar 2018: 245–246). The problem of “subordinated masculinity” played a major role (Deuchar 2018: 248). Gang members were focussed on improving their status. This issue is similar to what Duriesmith discerned in the new wars in Sierra Leone and South Sudan, and the competition between combatants about becoming one of the big men (Duriesmith 2017: 45). In Deuchar’s study, a number of practices worked successfully including “Pentecostal worship and fundamentalist oriented Bible study” in Hong Kong, “unconditional support from prison chaplains in Scotland and Denmark”, yoga and meditative practices in Denmark, as well as group therapy, mindfulness, and care in Los Angeles (Deuchar 2018: 252–255). In several instances, there were incremental improvements. Deuchar, however, acknowledged the problem of “deeply entrenched gender identities” (Deuchar 2018: 256). In terms of changing violent subjects then, Gilchrist noted “meta-analyses have concluded that overall DA treatment effectiveness is low” (Gilchrist 2013: 170). Likewise, Melanie McCarry analyzed empirical studies on young men in Scotland (and more broadly in the United Kingdom). McCarry observed that many young men still see it as acceptable to use violence against women (McCarry 2015: 96). She concluded that we need to address “the ideology of male entitlement” (McCarry 2015: 107).

Entrenched entitlement: The need for a broader approach The point here is that the gender pattern of male entitlement constitutes a formidable constraint on both the likelihood and the extent of change. There are other factors, but a sense of entitlement influences the way perpetrators deal with these factors. Of course, therapeutic and spiritual practices are useful, but limited. Moreover, research and literature indicate the need for broader long-term approaches addressing gender patterns of entitlement. For example, Lombard argues that it “is imperative to note that a gender-based definition of domestic abuse does not exclude men,

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rather it positions violence within a gendered model of understanding that illustrates why women are predominantly ‘victims’ and men perpetrators” (Lombard 2013: 177). Likewise, Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate argue we must address the structural aspects of gender relations (Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate 2018: 129–133). In the past, research has unintentionally relegated structural issues: The conventional framing of violence(s) in the street, violence(s) in the home, and the violence(s) of war as separate and separable has not only facilitated their measurement and exploration as separate areas of specialist expertise but it has also facilitated the dominance of particular ways of explaining such violence(s). Conventionally these explanations have privileged the individual as the unit of analysis, as opposed to the institutional, collective and/or structural. (Fitz-Gibbon and Walklate 2018: 129) Issues around gender, power, and entitlement are critical. However, the immediate problem is how to frame the issues concerned. Lombard and McMillan conclude we “must recognise that specific gendered harms occur within a general framework of gender inequality that supports violence against women, and it is only by challenging, and ultimately transforming, that framework that we see real and lasting change” (Lombard and McMillan 2013: 242). In conclusion, analysis, at the personal level, indicates that an excessive sense of entitlement is a pre-eminent problem in gender-based violence, but it is resistant to change. So, the implementation of the dispositif of strongman politics represents a significant way of reframing and addressing the problem of gender-based violence at the cultural level, and in the long-term.

Strongman politics, political rationalities, and subject formation In the dispositif of strongman politics, certain rationalities have a formative role in the development of controlling and/or violent subjects. Critically, political rationalities shape subject formation, cultivating gender patterns and predisposing certain men towards violence. This involves discourses and practices, exemplars and institutions. So, then, by placing the discussion about entitlement in the context of the formative role of political rationality, I am setting gender-based violence in the mesh of power-relations. A political rationality forms the horizon of our intersubjective relationships (Gadamer 2004:301), setting rules and practices, shaping subject formation. In other words, a living body is constituted by a prevailing political rationality, as such, our bodies are politically constituted. They are shaped by discourses of violence, security, and power, while also shaping our politics (Wilcox 2015: 1–16). Subsequently, the body and political

Transforming violent subjects 115 rationality are not two ends of a continuum, that is, the micro-subject and the macro-political, but instead, the body is formed in the domain of a constituting rationality. As such, thinking shapes practice. In other words, it is the “logic that shapes a certain kind of social interaction” (Raffnsøe, Gudmand-Høyer, and Thaning 2016: 199). So, what does this logic look like? It is partly a learned way of thinking. The emphasis here, on the rational, does not mean the emotional dimension is minimized (c.f., fear, shame), but instead, it highlights the way the rational shapes and filters our responses, emotional and otherwise. In a one-punch attack, for example, the perpetrator’s behaviour is almost inexplicable (chapter 1). Naturally, we ask “What was he thinking?” So, the rational is critical at both personal and cultural levels. In a political setting, for example, dominant ways of thinking shape personal and institutional practices. These relations are “characterized by regularities” (Rose 1999: 26). So, particular rationalities generate practices of domination, which predispose some men towards controlling behaviour and violent actions. Moreover, a political rationality is “anterior to political action and a condition of it” (Dean 1994: 181). In a simple way, this means that we have been pre-programmed. In the case of violent subjects then, it is important to identify “the specific and distinct rationality” that lies behind the violence (Oksala 2012: 9). In this book, it is entitlement. It is critical to examine then, “how forms of rationality inscribe themselves in practices or systems of practices, and what role they play in them” (Foucault 2000b: 230). Consequently, violent practices do not exist without an underlying rationality. In this case, it is an objectifying rationality fostering entitlement and proprietorial thinking, perpetuating the logic of binary oppositions, and the production of divisive practices. These are all elements in the dispositif of strongman politics.

Neoliberal rationality: The right of death and the power over life In this section, I explore this objectifying political rationality in the context of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a useful but complex term. In short, it represents the contemporary outworking of biopolitics, refracted through the prism of the market. This is the market managing us for the sake of the species. Nonetheless, making sure the human species lives is premised on inbuilt discrimination and inequities, where particular individuals and groups are sacrificed for the sake of the species. In this vein, we are entitled to sacrifice others. Under neoliberalism, the biopolitical imperative adversely reinforces the subject formation of perpetrators of violence, buttressing patterns of entitled masculinity by intensifying the sense of threat and justifying personal warrants for violent action. The escalation of threat fuels and is fuelled by the growing media-spectacle of paradigmatic (hero) masculinities. For example, the role of social media in the Christchurch

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massacre, and its aftermath, highlight the emergence of new and compounding lines of force in the new climate of threat. Generally, the combination of danger, actual or perceived, pre-emptive strategies, and entitled masculinities, exacerbates violence in military and familial settings. More broadly, an increase in the level of concern about risk is vulnerable to manipulation by authoritarian leaders. As fear escalates, the strongman can proclaim you can count on me (e.g., for law and order). In other words, the development of neoliberalism is entwined with the rise of strongman politics. It needs a strongman, who will choose and sacrifice others, for the sake of the species. In this age, the identification and management of threats are paramount tasks. So, then, security issues exacerbate existing violence by expanding the range, frequency, and intensity of threat – imagined, perceived, actual – which merge imperceptibly in daily life. What’s more, those on the margins suffer more as “the language of fear itself involves the intensification of threats, which works to create a distinction between those who are ‘under threat’ and those who threaten. Fear is an effect of this process rather than its origin” (Ahmed 2014: 72). Subsequently, a fixation with risk – personal, corporate, and political – is symptomatic of our age. Since 9/11, the pervasive sense of risk has intensified. Ironically, “the more effort that is put into governing terror the more terror comes to govern the governors and the governing technologies” (Dillon 2015: 182). Moreover, “the proliferation and implementation of neoliberal forms of government has contributed to the production of insecurity and the cultivation of fear in ways that go well beyond the level Foucault observed during his life time” (Lemke 2014: 66). The pervading sense of fear, and attempts to pre-empt fear itself, exacerbate the precarity of women (and children). In conclusion, political rationality serves as “the condition of possibility and legitimacy of its instruments” (Brown 2015: 121). This entails, “the figuration of human beings as human capital” (Brown 2015: 65). Under neoliberalism; gender subordination is compounded. In addition to the gender pay gap, inadequate superannuation, and the glass ceiling, women bear the weight of child care and domestic duties, there is also the guilt for feeling responsible for fulfilling these roles (Brown 2015: 104–107). In addition to social inequities, certain political rationalities generate practices of domination, which are conducive of violent action. Domestic violence, for example, “is effectively depoliticized when it is viewed in gender neutral terms and reduced to an individual pathology. What is required is a careful analysis of the functioning, maintenance, and legitimacy of the power technologies on which it rests” (Oksala 2012: 111). Furthermore, neoliberalism is the outworking of a biopolitics, which has been refracted through the prism of the market. The market is managing us, for the sake of the species. Moreover, making sure the species lives is premised on structural discrimination and inequities. It is an ethos of shared sacrifice, that is not equally shared. Under neoliberalism, the objectification of women is

Transforming violent subjects 117 construed in economic terms. Now women are monetized (e.g., home care), managed, and expended. So, women are disposable. Inevitably, biopolitics becomes a necropolitics. Necropolitics then is “the ‘letting die’ required by the biopolitical injunction to ‘make live’”, however, “letting die is no mere accident” (Dillon 2015: 152).

Theology and the work of transformation Before considering the role of theology, it is worth recalling some of the key issues. I am pursuing two questions. First, what makes violent male subjects? Second, how do we change them? First, there are many contributing factors, but I am focusing on an excessive sense of entitlement (i.e., entrenched entitlement). I chose entitlement, not to the exclusion of other factors, but because it has a galvanizing role as a gender pattern, encompassing other factors. In simple terms, the perpetrator's sense of entitlement authorizes and exonerates his controlling behaviour and/or violent actions. Second, attempts to change violent subjects, at the level of personal transformation, have had limited success. But this level provides clues about what to look for at the cultural level. Entitlement, at the personal level, reflects something of strongman politics. For instance, entitlement emerges in a quasi-rights discourse, which is characteristic of both the entitled man and strongman politics. Moreover, entitlement is driven by fear of the other. The source of fear is symbolized by softness, female or gay, evoking shame that is potentially converted to violence (Mann 2014: 40, 55; Ray 2018: 45–47). Rights claiming here is about the right to act violently in response to fear. It entails treating the other as an object. There are many elements here. In a dispositif of violence, however, the elements are configured in order to pre-empt or address urgent needs concerning power and status. So, then, what is the relation between theology and strongman politics? I am using the concept of theology broadly here to encompass academic and lay theology. Moreover, the focus is on cultivating a theological posture, which is fit for the political realm. By theological posture, I am referring to how we orient ourselves. As such, this posture is about selfcritique, as well as critique. In the spirit of Fiorenza (2000), this is about the academy accepting an invitation to engage in a radical form of self-critique. In the spirit of Williams, the vocation of a theologian is “a constantly selfcritical autobiographical project” (Williams 1992: 222). In the spirit of Harcourt, and the work of self-critique, “I need to theorize and contest my own actions” (Harcourt 2020a: 43). Furthermore, the theological posture is about theory and praxis, which is built on radical self-critique. In other words, we have to practice truth-telling. On this basis, our vocation is about generating and embodying counter-discourses. This entails inaugurating transformative limit-experiences in opposition to the dispositif of strongman politics. To explore this further, let’s return to Nicodemus.

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In the Gospel of John, the transformation of Nicodemus sets him in opposition to the strongmen. This opposition is critical to the dynamic of the triptych. This opposition is not so much a reaction, but the elicitation of a vocation. The inauguration of a discourse, or practice, of opposition, like Judith Butler’s notion of nonviolence, is active not passive (Butler 2020: 23). In the text itself, the opposition constitutes an intervention. In the play of characters, it represents a limit-experience impacting the strongmen. For Nicodemus, the limit-experience is an experience of transgression and threshold, unfolding across the three panels. He has transgressed boundaries by challenging his peers (John 7:45–52). Philosophically, it is an expression of his newly discovered agency. Politically, it is a form of resistance. Theologically, it is symptomatic of life in the new age. So, then, this also prefigures the contemporary theologian’s vocation. In the face of the implicit, sometimes explicit, violence of today's strongman politics, the theologian is called to establish oppositions, in discourse and in practice, which constitute a limit-experience. For some, the limit-experience will be transformative (i.e., divine desubjectivation). For others, the limitexperience will be disruptive. More broadly, theologians and the church have a shared vocation of political resistance (Pally 2019). In other words, our vocation is found in self-critique, truth-telling, and setting ourselves in opposition to strongman politics by generating counter-discourses and counter-practices. This section then is mainly concerned about theology and the production of counter-discourses. The following section explores possibilities for the church. So, what about these counter-discourses? For Graham Ward, theology has a role in transforming “the cultural imaginary” (Ward 2005: 172). This is related to our sense of vocation. In this process, discourse is indispensable (Ward 2005: 46). Presumably, but not always, a theologian has experienced personal transformation, which makes her a theologian in the first place. Furthermore, a discursive intervention then, as opposition to, constitutes a limit-experience for the dispositif of strongman politics. With no guarantees about the outcome, the theologian is called to critique and subvert the culture of entitlement. It is the courage of truth. It is about a new “mode of action” (Foucault 2011: 14). However, this vocation of inaugurating opposition, as part of a theology of resistance, means the theologian is continually open to the experience of divine desubjectivation. In other words, our vocation depends on self-critique, which is grounded in the disruptive and renewing power of a divine limit-experience. In all this, the ultimate focus is on the dispositif of strongman politics. Under strongman politics, fear and compliance are cultivated, and others are sacrificed for the sake of the species as human worth is instrumentalized. Unsurprisingly, “Public discourse has become significantly more aggressive and divisive, as ethno-nationalist populist movements have gained traction” (Junge 2019: 9). In the midst of this, the strongman is the exception. He sees himself as the exception. Crucially, strongman politics

Transforming violent subjects 119 influences other men, disposing them toward violence. There are other factors, but entitlement gender patterns galvanize them by prompting, permitting, and exonerating violence. As an illustration, the warrior trope of the European military tradition establishes proprietorial patterns of thinking and acting as normative for men. This is manifested in an excessive sense of entitlement. Of course, in this context, gender is central. For Butler, the concept of performativity describes the way gender as norm is inscribed in our subject formation, because gender is “instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts” (Butler 2007: 191). The historical process then generates binaries like hard/soft, authentic/effeminate, and manliness/effeminacy (Forth 2008: 15, 28, 48).2 In that sense, gender patterns are worked out in relations, setting up binaries of the visible and invisible, male and female, strong and weak, hero and helpless, worker and carer, as the “dominated apply categories constructed from the point of view of the dominant to the relations of domination, thus making them appear as natural” (Bourdieu 2001: 35). For example, consider strongman discourses about women. To begin, while every manifestation of entitlement has its micro features, its constituent elements are conditioned by political rationalities and prevailing gender patterns. So, the maintenance of gender binaries and the objectification of women are features of the dispositif of strongman politics. In this dispositif, women are the enemies of the people. At best, women are childbearers sustaining the species. At worst, they are reduced to sexual organs for the pleasure of the (male) species (Finchelstein 2019: 242). In terms of the objectification of women, consider Trump “grabbing pussy” as a trope for the binary logic and objectifying nature of strongman politics. In this dispositif, pussy discourse and groping practices are badges of honour for strongmen, and a membership requirement for the brotherhood. Naturally, it goes without saying that strongmen feel perfectly entitled to grab women’s bodies. A real man, however, does not want to be called a pussy, let alone be made to feel like a woman. In the face of violence then, theology has a role in exercising critique and evoking discursive ruptures. In the face of strongman politics, this entails the production of counter-discourses. In fact, theology has a role in terms the production of both counter-discourses and counter-practices. Moreover, the distinction between discourse and practice is not absolute. To begin, discourse is a network of statements producing knowledge, where a statement is more than a sentence or a speech act. A statement is an enunciation that enables sentences and speech acts to be formed (Foucault 1972: 88–91). In this light, a statement is “always an event that neither the language (langue) nor the meaning can quite exhaust” (Foucault 1972: 28). In other words, there is an inherently performative element in the production of theological discourses. It is something of an event. So, in the construction of our opposition to strongman politics, we enact a form of resistance to violence. In terms of the personal life of a theologian, I am in

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sympathy with the spirit of Bernard Harcourt’s reflections on the life of a critical theorist. Harcourt avows, “I litigate, I militate, I organize, I write, I advocate, I organize, I teach, I convene – and, throughout, at all times, I brutally confront my own praxis with critical theory, and vice versa” (Harcourt 2020a: 25). In theology, theory and praxis work in tandem too. Likewise, discourse and practice work in tandem. Of course, the church’s production of counter-practices is important. And I take baptism as a prime example of such a transformative counter-practice. Historically, the early church lived under the rule of Rome. In the service of an alternative realm then, the church’s practice of baptism entailed a commitment to a new set of allegiances (Elliott 2008: 53). In the shadow of Rome, we can regard “baptism-as-declaration-of-resistance” (Myers 2008: 130). Moreover, the church’s counter-practices are in fact embodied theological statements. In conclusion, I need to return to the significance of the prefix counter, in relation to the terms counter-discourse and counter-practice. This helps clarify the meaning of opposition. That is, theologians embodying opposition to the dispositif of strongman politics does not mean we are adopting a simple negative position. It is also not a case of developing a new synthesis. Instead, our opposition represents a genuine alternative, a counterpoint, something new, and a sign of life in the new age. As such, it is a counter-move, “Born in an opposition: it soon exceeds it” (Harcourt 2020b: 80). Furthermore, the idea of counter is a theme in Foucault (contre in French). For example, in response to the modern domination of scientific and technological positivistic thinking, Foucault reflects, “I would like to evoke here a counter-positivism that is not the opposite of positivism but rather its counterpoint” (Foucault 2011: 21). The use of the prefix counter is related to the issue of freedom, that is, in the mesh of power-relations we do not have unlimited freedom, especially as modern governmentality manages our conduct. However, we have the freedom to resist by cultivating counter-conduct. We can say no. We can will another way. Historically, Foucault identified early examples of counter-conduct in the middle ages. Mystical experience stands out here. It was arguably a marginal activity in the church, but this may be because it generated counterconduct. Innately, mystical experience works against institutional demands for obedience. In the service of pastoral power, the church was focused on managing our conduct. In Foucault’s thinking then, “Mystical experience short-circuits this hierarchy and the slow circulation of the truths of teaching” (Foucault 2011: 212). Balibar also explores the counter theme, developing it in a political context, in terms of a need for a counterpower (Balibar 2014: 284). Harcourt pursues the theme of the counter-move too, recognizing that a counter-move is “autonomous of the opposition itself” (Harcourt 2020a: 72). It surpasses “its oppositional object” (Harcourt 2020b: 79). The counter-move has the capacity “to fashion new and autonomous ideas” (Harcourt 2020b: 75). Theology too, working in the public square, is called to generate the counter-move, “Born in an

Transforming violent subjects 121 opposition: it soon exceeds it” (Harcourt 2020b: 80). In this regard, Harcourt makes a plea “It is time to reappropriate the counter-move to push critical philosophy forward” (Harcourt 2020a: 202). Likewise, theology is encouraged to pursue the counter-move and so, by configuring and embodying opposition to strongman politics, we presage the new. In that context, it is a gesture of care, and an expression of truth-telling.

The church and the work of transformation This book is a theological exercise, but it has ecclesiological implications. Certainly, the concept of transformation is central to this project. I define transformation then as a limit-experience, entailing notions of transgression and threshold. There is an ambiguity here, however, that cannot be resolved, which is characteristic of the experience of transformation. That is, with transgression and threshold, both dimensions are needed to express the full impact of a limit-experience. The limit-experience of divine desubjectivation entails the undoing and reforming of the self. It is a disruptive transition. On the one hand, as transgression, the transition implies crossing a boundary. On the other hand, as a threshold, the transition implies crossing-over. In this dual sense, the transition involved has something in common with the anthropological notion of liminality, which has traditionally been associated with ritual (e.g., baptism). The transition here, like the limit-experience of desubjectivation, is disruptive and disorienting, but the ambiguous phase of disruption is an integral part of the transition. It is the difficult in-between phase. In this context, the difference between transgression and threshold is not resolved, but instead, both aspects are part and parcel of the liminal experience. A doorway, for instance, can be a limit and a threshold. So, the concepts of transgression and threshold are not mutually exclusive (Jordan 2015: 22). They can be different aspects of the same experience. Geopolitical borders, for example, are lines on a map. In practice, they can be crossed. A successful border crossing, however, can also be a threshold experience. So, then, the limit/threshold relation can be understood broadly in three ways. First, the limit/threshold is similar to how Judith Butler talks about the body, as both the defining limit of the person and the threshold of relationality (Butler 2020: 16). Second, the limit/threshold can be explained ethically. For Rosi Braidotti limits “are built-in the very embodied and embedded structure of the subject” (Braidotti 2010: 210). In that context, the issue is one of endurance. These limits have long-term implications, but they can be addressed, subsequently turning an end into a beginning. That is, we endure, confront, and surpass. Third, the limit/threshold can be explained, anthropologically, even spiritually, that is, in surpassing the limit, we are transformed. Furthermore, it is clear then that this dual sense of transgression and threshold is not a problem to be solved. But instead, it is

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an important and creative space. In this vein, Paul Tillich writes about the importance of the boundary: When I was asked to give an account of the way my ideas had developed from my life, I thought the concept of the boundary might be the fitting symbol for the whole of my personal and intellectual development. At almost every point, I have had to stand between alternative possibilities of existence, to be completely at home in neither and to take no definitive stand against either. (Tillich 1966: 13) Likewise, in the first panel of the triptych, the ambiguous reference “by night” captures something of the boundary. On the one hand, Nicodemus coming to Jesus “by night” implies an element of secrecy, something clandestine. On the other hand, the use of “by night” in the triptych implies Nicodemus has crossed-over, subsequently enabling him to enter fully into an experience of transformation. The night here, like a doorway, is both boundary and threshold. Christologically, Jesus constitutes a limitexperience for Nicodemus. He embodies both boundary and threshold (Jn 10:9, “I am the gate”).

Baptism: Its political implications In this book, the theology of transformation has concentrated on the discursive importance of theology and its role in opposing strongman politics. In the long term, however, the importance of ecclesial practices for cultural transformation also needs to be fully canvassed. While this is beyond the scope of the present study, it is important to consider the church’s role in engendering practices of resistance. In William Cavanaugh’s words, we need an ecclesiology that is “robust enough to counter the powers that be, but humble enough not to reproduce the exclusions and pride of these powers. If the church is not in some way a visible countersign to the powers, then it simply opens the way for other allegiances” (Cavanaugh 2011: 128). Historically, baptism, with its confessional elements, has had a conservative role in terms of maintaining church order by inculcating practices of obedience. But there are other ways of reading baptism, as “baptism should symbolize the overcoming of alienating and oppressive modes of human relationship, and the reunion with one’s authentic potential for human life by entering into a community that represents redemptive human relationality (Ruether 1985: 77). So, in this regard, baptism is a sacrament, a symbol, an entrance rite, an act of incorporation, and a political counter-practice. As a practice, baptism takes place, in the here and now, in the church. It is performative (“I baptize you”) entailing interpellation (e.g., the child is named). As a ritual, there is a narrative (story of Jesus) and symbols (water, candle, holy oil). There is a human body, a real person, who is baptised by

Transforming violent subjects 123 an embodied priest or minister in a living community of family and friends. In that sense, the symbol of baptism captures the immanent, material, and communal dimensions of transformation. As a rite then, baptism is transformative in general, but I am using it here to bring into focus key elements in my theology of transformation in particular. Of course, the use of baptism as an example is not exhaustive, but rather, it is indicative of transformative possibilities. In this reading then, baptism is the paradigmatic example of the unmaking and remaking of the subject. Clearly, this is a schematic presentation of baptism, as baptismal practices vary across churches and throughout history. They can include adult as well as infant baptism, with immersion, pouring, or sprinkling. Moreover, there are multiple ways of interpreting baptism, but I am using the trope of dying and rising here to interpret the meaning of baptism. In this sense, baptism is a telling example of what it means to be born anew. Certainly, this is not the baptism of the pre-modern churches of the Latin West, where “women give physical birth, but spiritual birth – ‘real’ birth – is given by male clerics in baptism” (Ross 1998: 193). Lastly, the emphasis with infant baptism is with the child, but equally, however, it is also with family and the faith community endorsing, witnessing, and receiving the child into community. In this process of transformation, naming the child also plays a role as the “pronouncement of the proper name is, in effect, the baptism of selfhood” (Taylor 1987: 130). Theologically, the transformative process of baptism is exemplified graphically by Nicodemus. The first panel raising the possibility of transformation (3: 4, “How can anyone be born after having grown old?”). Historically, the trope of dying and rising, and of death and rebirth are expressed artistically, architecturally, and liturgically in church life. In this vein, Robin Jensen (2012) outlines the diverse and multilayered way baptism has been understood (e.g., incorporation into community). She identifies dying and rising as a major theme: Although it diverges in significant ways from the paradigmatic events of John’s baptism of Jesus or the Holy Spirit’s Pentecostal descent upon the apostles, the theme of baptismal death and rebirth appears in the earliest strands of Christian teaching and is, arguably, the most transformative dimension of early Christian initiation. (Jensen 2012: 137) This strand has a biblical warrant (Romans 6:5; John 3:3–5). It takes up, interprets, and ritualizes the passion of Christ. Indubitably, the Passion is a crucial narrative in Christian Scriptures and a hermeneutic for interpreting the meaning of baptism. As a sacrament of desubjectivation, baptism is a limit-experience that wrenches the subject from itself. In this vein, limit-experiences “make possible a transformation of the subject – they are transformative

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experiences” (O’Leary 2010: 167). Baptism then is a threshold experience, as it represents and enables a crossing-over (franchissement) from the death of the old to the birth of the new. The limit dimension is encapsulated and expressed in both the symbolic action and the narrative framework. The symbolic action entails the use of water, which is a symbol for dying and for living. As a symbol of dying, there are two aspects, mythological and existential. Mythologically, sea monsters like Behemoth came from the deep. Existentially, water is a symbol of threat. After all, we can drown in water. Water, however, is also a symbol of living. As a symbol of living, there are two aspects, theological and existential. Theologically, water is used in purification rites to wash away sins. Existentially, water is a source of life (i.e., living water). Of course, the narrative framework of baptism includes the trope of dying and rising. Baptism as sacrament, moreover, is the symbolic action that takes crucifixion as the definitive limit-experience. The reflection on baptism spells out the import of the triptych of Nicodemus. The triptych constitutes a story of transformation. It is not the complete story, and it is not without ambiguity (though there is no complete or unambiguous story). Instead, the triptych is three iconic images working together telling a story of transformation. In so doing, it acts as a lens for reading the significance of the story of Jesus, underlining the possibility of the new. In the church then, baptism is a paramount symbol of new birth. It is a personal and communal symbol, reminding us of our worldly vocation. So, baptism is not a sentimental recollection of a past event, but a radical re-enactment in the present. In this sense, it is a performative, symbolic, sacramental limit-experience inaugurating transformative experiences of the new, here and now, in people and communities, shaping our orientation to and our posture in the world. In that context, Christian existence is inherently political. Moreover, in terms of the politics of the strongmen, baptism is a transformative counter-practice. Historically, under Rome, it makes sense to construe “baptism-asdeclaration-of-resistance” (Myers 2008: 130). The early church lived under the shadow of Rome, which demanded its allegiance. So, baptism raised questions about loyalties (Jensen 2012: 54–55). The church’s practice of baptism entailed a new claim of allegiance to God, not Rome, requiring loyalty to an alternative realm, that is, “the basileia of God” (Fiorenza 1994: 120). In fact, the use of the term basileia itself is a signal to Rome that there is a serious alternative. Politically, the church’s use of the term sacramentum, which is the Roman soldier’s oath, also prefigures new allegiances (Jensen 2012: 67). Furthermore, the political significance of baptism is heightened when the symbol is read through the prism of the trope of resurrection. Patrick Stephan (2020) examines the influence of the belief in the resurrection in the early church. Stephan’s “concerns in this project center on the rhetorical and material instantiation of the belief of the resurrection, not its reality” (Stephan 2020: 14, note 1). Focusing on the body, and especially the body under Roman domination, Patrick’s basic

Transforming violent subjects 125 suggestion “is that the rhetorical force of resurrection contributed to the rise of Christianity and subsequent subversion of the Roman Empire because it challenged Rome’s power” (Stephan 2020: 1). In other words, the trope of the resurrected body, and ultimately the Christian body, is not a docile body, but a resilient one. As such, baptism is the entrance rite into this new body of believers. Through baptism (Gal 1:1–2; 3:28), believers participate in the resurrection (Stephan 2020: 31). Through baptism, the baptised belong to a new group (Fiorenza 2013: 249) with new allegiances, a different social structure, and a new sense of time, eschatologically and liturgically. In that sense, the baptised body is a political body. To be incorporated into this body is itself a counter-practice. In conclusion, I am concerned about changing violent subjects. This has led inevitably to questions about the formative cultural context, and the need to develop a theological response to the violence of the dispositif of strongman politics. This means theology, academic and lay, has a role in developing counter-discourses and practices. As an act of resistance, theological discourses constitute a limit-experience for the dispositif of strongman politics. Of course, this also signals the value of ecclesial counter-practices. Historically, baptism had a role in establishing church order by fostering obedience to the church (Ogden 2017). In my trajectory of transformation then, I envisage baptism differently in relation to both the personal and cultural levels of analysis. In terms of the personal level of transformation, there is a role for baptism in the transformation of violent subjects. Obviously, this has to be part of an integrated therapeutic process, but symbolic actions have a role in relation to the formation of personal identity, and the integration of belief and action (Nelson, 2019: 416). In a faith community, baptism can foster care, self-critique, and a commitment to a truth-telling life (Deuchar 2018: 154–156). Of course, changing violent subjects is problematic. In terms of the cultural level of transformation then, baptism entails the candidate’s incorporation into the body of Christ, which at the same time, is galvanizing for members of the faith community. In the sacramental process, the faith community constitutes an alternative space (ekklesia) to that of the dispositif of strongman politics. Baptism is the sacrament of Christian identity. It is inherently political. Subsequently, baptism symbolizes, sanctifies, and strengthens the church’s opposition to the violence of strongman politics.

The significance of the limit-experience It is important to spell out the nature of transformation. At the personal level of analysis, transformation is the transformation of a person, that is, in this case, the controlling and/or violent subject. Certainly, success at this level is limited, but it works for some people, with significant benefits for family and friends. Moreover, we are still in an exploratory phase, with burgeoning new therapeutic practices incorporating insights from Christianity, Buddhism (Ng 2016), Stoic philosophy (Robertson 2020), and

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the like. In the case of IPV, any changes are welcome, as new therapeutic forays into spirituality are certainly worth pursuing. At this personal level, transformation as divine desubjectivation means the wrenching and the renewal of the self. That is, it is about the person being born anew, here and now. The emphasis here is on the limit-experience as threshold leading to personal transformation, which includes the subject’s very being. On that note, this is not utopian thinking, expecting the transformation of all violent subjects. Instead, it is a realistic view, delineating the importance of exploring therapeutic possibilities for perpetrators, survivors, families, and communities. In this reading of faith in the new life, eternal life is manifested in the exploration of spiritual practices and the cultivation of therapeutic communities, religious and secular. Moreover, the personal level of analysis will also provide insights into how we can work more creatively at the cultural level. Family and military violence, for example, provide palpable examples of the wider culture of entitlement. The examples here include women’s personal experience of violence, the experience of DV practitioners, the negative effects of a binary understanding of gender, the objectification of women, the impact of the brotherhood, competition over power and status, and the pervasive problem of fear, which is related to the pre-emptive dimension of coercive control and violent actions. At the cultural level of analysis, the emphasis is on limit-experience as boundary. In this context, theologians draw the boundary discursively. Like Nicodemus, in the second panel, we are called to embody and enact opposition to the political culture of excessive entitlement (where others are sacrificed for the sake of the species). In this context, opposition is not a negative concept, but rather, it is an immanent expression of divine resistance in action. Out of freedom then, the strongmen are called to account. Obviously, the exemplars of strongman politics may never change, but the dispositif of strongman politics can be subverted. Desubjectivation, at the cultural level, means the wrenching and renewal of politics itself. Of course, in all this, the work of political theology is inherently collaborative. It embraces many theologians, academic and lay, Christian churches and communities, as well as allies and collaborators from other academic disciplines, faith perspectives, and secular spiritualities. In this context, the task is about the common good. So, then, the limit experience as boundary, leading to transformation, comes to life in the political realm. This is not a utopian view, however, expecting something like world-peace (which is a worthy aspiration). Instead, it is a realistic view, delineating the vocation of a theologian. In this reading of faith in the new life, eternal life is manifested as care, collaboration, critique, truth-telling, and resistance as counterpoint. Moreover, work at the cultural level of analysis provides insights into how we can work more creatively in the long term at the personal level. Like preventative medicine, challenging the dispositif of strongman politics, and changing political rationalities, proprietorial thinking, and entrenched gender patterns, has long-term effects on subject formation.

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Notes 1 In the long term, and this is beyond the scope of this study, these measures would include a range of approaches for working with, consulting, and supporting survivors to addressing sources of male aggrievement, see Pally (2019: 131). 2 Forth’s binaries resemble Bourdieu’s schemes of perception (1998, 2001), for example, top/bottom, hard/soft, straight/curved, dry/wet, up/down, above/below, dry/moist, hot/cold, active/passive, and mobile/immobile.

References Ahmed, S. (2014). The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2nd edition, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Baaz, M., Mona L., and Vinthagen, S. (2018). Researching Resistance and Social Change: A Critical Approach to Theory and Practice, London and New York: Rowman and Littlefield International. Balibar, E. (2014). Equaliberty: Political Essays, trans. J Ingram. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Bourdieu, P. (2001). Masculine Domination, trans. R. Nice, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Braidotti, R. (2010). “The politics of ‘Life Itself’ and new ways of dying” in D. Coole and S. Frost eds., New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 201–218. Brown, W. (2015). Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, New York: Zone Books. Brown, W. (2018). “Neoliberalism’s Frankenstein: Authoritarian freedom in twenty-first century ‘Democracies’”, in W. Brown, P.E. Gordon and M. Pensky, Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 7–43. Butler, J. (2007). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York and London: Routledge. Butler, J. (2020). The Force on Non-violence, London and New York: Verso Books. Cavanaugh, W.T. (2011). Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge, UK: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company. Dean, M. (1994). Critical and Effective Histories: Foucault’s Methods and Historical Sociology, Abingdon, UK and New York, NY: Routledge. Deuchar, R. (2018). Gangs and Spirituality: Global Perspectives, Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Dillon, M. (2015). Biopolitics of Security: A Political Analytic of Finitude, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Dobash, R.E. and Dobash, R.P. (2015). When Men Murder Women, New York, NY: Oxford. Duriesmith, D. (2017). Masculinity and New War: The gendered dynamics of contemporary armed conflict, London and New York: Routledge. Elliott, N. (2008). The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire, Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Finchelstein, F. (2019). From Fascism to Populism in History, Oakland: University of California Press.

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Transforming violent subjects 129 Jordan, D.M. (2015). Convulsing Bodies: Religion and Resistance in Foucault, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. Lemke, T. (2014). “The risks of security: Liberalism, biopolitics, and fear” in V. Lemm and M. Vatter eds., The Government of Life: Foucault, Biopolitics, and Neoliberalism. New York: Fordham University Press, 59–74. Lombard, N. (2013). “What about the men? Understanding men’s experiences of domestic abuse within the gender-based model of violence” in N. Lombard and L. McMillan eds., Violence against Women: Current Theory and Practice in Domestic Abuse, Sexual Violence and Exploitation. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 177–193. Lombard, N. and McMillan, L. (2013). “Taking stock: Theory and practice in violence against women” in N. Lombard and L. McMillan eds., Violence against Women: Current Theory and Practice in Domestic Abuse, Sexual Violence and Exploitation. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 233–244. Mann, B. (2014). Sovereign Masculinity: Gender Lessons from the War on Terror, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. Mahmood S. (2005, 2012). Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. McCarry, M. (2015). “Views and experiences of young men: Masculinity and gendered interpersonal violence” in Aghtaie, N. and Gangoli, G. eds., Understanding Gender Based Violence: National and international contexts. London and New York, Routledge, 95–109. McSweeney, J. (2013). “Religion in the Web of Immanence: Foucault and Thinking Otherwise after the Death of God” in Foucault Studies 15, 72–94. Miethe, T.D. and Regoeczi, W.C. (2016). “Homicide: Its prevalence, correlates, and situational contexts” in C.A. Cuevas and Rennison, M.R. eds., The Wiley Handbook on the Psychology of Violence. Chichester: Wiley and Sons, 123–139. Myers, C. (2008). Binding the Strongman: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, Anniversary edition, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books. Nason-Clark, N. and Fisher-Townsend, B. (2015). Men Who Batter, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Nelson, J.M. (2019). Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, New York: Springer, 2009. Ng, E. (2016). Buddhism and Cultural Studies: A Profession of Faith, London: Palgrave Macmillan. Ogden, S.G. (2017). The Church, Authority and Foucault: Imagining the Church as an Open Space of Freedom, London and New York: Routledge. Oksala, J. (2012). Foucault, Politics, and Violence, Evanston: Northwestern University Press. O’Leary, T. (2010). “Rethinking experience with Foucault” in T. O’Leary and C. Falzon eds., Foucault and Philosophy, Malden and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 162–184. Pally, M. (2019). “Populism in America: The duress prodded version of the covenant” in S. Sinn and E. Harasta eds., Resisting Exclusion: Global Theological Responses to Populism. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 125–131. Raffnsøe, S., Gudmand-Høyer, M., and Thaning, M.S. (2016). Michel Foucault: A Research Companion, Basingstoke, UK, and New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan.

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7

6 January: An epiphany of entitlement

On reflection A horde of angry men and women stormed Capitol Hill in Washington DC on 6 January 2021. Ironically, 6 January is a significant day in the church. In the East, it is the feast that commemorates the baptism of Jesus. In the West, it celebrates the journey of the magi (who followed the star). Moreover, an epiphany is a divine manifestation. Perversely, then, the storming of Capitol Hill constitutes an epiphany of entitlement, manifesting a raft of problems, ranging from the loss of white privilege to aggrievement and the long-term effects of learned ignorance. Certainly, this is not just an American problem. Nonetheless, all this invites a deeper engagement with politics. By deeper, I mean a substantial, long-term engagement with politics. I am not necessarily referring here to posters, placards, sit-ins, marches, and barricades. They can be part of it. Instead, a deeper engagement entails an experience of divine desubjectivation. But what about the problem of violent subjects? To begin, there is a link between practices of violence and the construction of masculinity. The term gender pattern is a way of interpreting these issues. In that perspective, discourse about gender patterns is contextual, multiple, and changeable. This entails attention to perceived differences, how they are perceived, and by whom. This also requires an awareness of power-relations, implicit and explicit. Clearly, the issue of violence and masculinities is multilayered. In order to appreciate the notion of male entitlement then, as a gender pattern, it is important to recall that gender here is a relational configuration. In other words, my sense of entitlement is worked out in relation to someone else. In particular, my entitlement is fulfilled at the expense of another. In this context, my entitlement is met, if and only if, the other is regarded as an object. In the process, the other is de-personalized. So, then, are violent subjects capable of change? Based on fieldwork, however, the short answer is that the prospect of changing violent subjects is generally infrequent, incremental, and protracted. In some cases, spiritual practices are helpful. Some individuals experience deep transformation. In other cases, unhealthy religious DOI: 10.4324/9780429273520-7

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fixations get in the way exacerbating violent predispositions (e.g., delusional thinking; theologies of male headship). In the long term, however, we need to look at wider factors that influence individual dispositions and behaviour. This is about the factors that shape subject formation. Specifically, this includes fear and shame, power and status, rights-talk, and proprietorial thinking. In the final analysis, both approaches to transformation are needed, the personal and the cultural. Both approaches indicate the prevalence of entitlement. Both approaches underline the value of interpreting entitlement in terms of gender pattern and political rationalities. In the face of violence then, the driving question relates to discerning grounds for hope, here and now. Consequently, my emphasis is on immanence and the signs of the new. This is a theology of the life of the new age, discerning inherent possibilities. To this end, I use the triptych of Nicodemus to explicate this theology. The triptych frames the transformation of Nicodemus, demonstrating the gospel’s theme of new life. In the triptych, the narrative hinge is found in the tension between the meeting of Nicodemus and Jesus and the shadow of the strongmen. The triptych articulates the concept of desubjectivation as the promise of the new. At the personal level, divine desubjectivation is an encounter with the new, which acts as limit-experience transgressing (something dies) and enabling (something exceeded). This is a dying and a rising of the self, symbolized in baptism, where identity is disrupted and the subject/object distinction is subverted. In the remaking of the subject, there is a new sense of self and world. At the cultural level, divine desubjectivation is the disruption and reconfiguration of abusive and violent dispositifs. New elements are brought into play reconstituting heterogenous ensembles with new thinking, discourses, practices, exemplars, and institutions, changing political rationalities and gender patterns. In the public square then, and for the common good, theology finds its raison d’etre in inaugurating opposition.

Insights and questions In summation, I examine entitled subjects predisposed to violence, where transformation requires a limit-experience, wrenching the subject from itself, relinquishing entitlement. In this reading, I use and extend Foucault’s concept of desubjectivation. So, personal transformation means undoing and re-forming subjects. Moreover, Foucault links transformation with spiritual practices. Spiritual practices, however, initiate only partial shortterm changes in violent subjects, mainly because of the fact that entitlement has become entrenched. In the future, it remains to be seen if spiritual, and other, therapeutic practices can be more effective in addressing the problem of entrenched entitlement. But there are some promising signs. Moreover, I use a comparison between the entitled man and the dispositif of strongman politics as a way of exploring entitlement at the personal (micro) and cultural (macro) levels of analysis. The term strongman is used

6 January 133 widely in popular literature and social media. I use strongman politics as a trope, standing for a dispositif that generates specific political rationalities and practices, informing gender patterns, and shaping subject formation. The strongman represents the return of the king. It is part of a mystification of both power and the spectacle of power, where the strongman will be our saviour. He will save our species (but others must be sacrificed). In the process, I articulate an important dimension of the task of theology, which has implications for the church. In brief, theology here acts as a limit-experience for politics, producing counter-discourses and counter-practices. Of course, I have focused on academic theology, but I presume a range of theologies, academic and lay, contribute significantly in this way. It is a collaborative task, engaging other disciplines too. In the future, however, more work needs to be done in terms of spelling out the character of these counter-discourses and counter-practices. So, what kind of theology is this? Overall, it is an exercise in political theology. In terms of method, however, I start with gender-based violence in familial and military settings, and then address the wider political context. The choice of starting place informs my method. For me, theory is essential, but an exercise in political theology needs to start with lived experience. In conclusion, the strength of this work is that I take lived experience seriously, giving prominence to research carried out in relation to violent subjects in the process of theorizing entitlement. With this in mind, here are the book’s main insights and ensuing questions: •







The book is an exercise in political theology, but I begin with problems in the public square rather than a theorization of political theology. Moreover, I combine this with the adaption and extension of two Foucauldian concepts (i.e., dispositif and desubjectivation) In the future, it is important to revisit the concept of the dispositif. In recent years, it has been under scrutiny. So, there are ongoing issues here, such as, what is the relationship between various dispositifs? I develop a theoretical approach to entitlement, reading it is a gender pattern, which has implications at both micro and macro levels. My use of quasi-rights discourse, and its relationship to the objectification of women, is an important way of addressing issues of control. In addition to familial and military contexts, the relationship between entitlement, proprietorial thinking, and the power of appropriation is worth exploring further in other contexts I produce a theory of entitlement, which has been articulated in terms of a gender pattern that objectifies women. It has been tested against fieldwork and empirical studies, familial and military. It would be important to take my model of entitlement and reflect on it with DV practitioners, and if possible, survivors too

134 •













6 January Personal identity is related to what is proper to me, and what is proper to me has personal (my person) and material connotations (my property). The analysis of a perpetrator’s formation, motivation, and actions needs to be supplemented by consideration of other elements, like the influence of proprietorial thinking (my woman). In the West, at least, the combination of fear in the age of security, the instrumental rationality of neoliberalism, and a proprietorial tradition (cf., private property/personal identity) exacerbate the problem of entitlement I accentuate the significance of the pervasiveness of fear, showing how the cultural and personal levels of analysis are infected by fear. Subsequently, under threat, the fear of the strongman and the perpetrator are intensified, escalating their own sense of entitlement. Fear also makes the people more compliant. In this setting, an exploration of the social psychology of fear at personal and cultural levels is worth pursuing I adapt and extend the concept of desubjectivation to express more fully my theology of transformation. Here, the concept of limitexperience is understood as both transgressing boundaries and crossing thresholds. In other words, the wrenching of the subject and opposition to the strongmen are both important dimensions of the presence of the new My theological premise is the inherent potential for transformation, based on the reign of God, stressing immanence. The key to this is the expectation of the new, living life in-depth, open to divine desubjectivation. To this end, I use the concept of eternal life from the Gospel of John, because of its implicit theology of the new. In future research, it would be useful to explore more fully the relationship between the new, novelty, and the event In the future, other theologies and traditions can be consulted to test the notion of divine desubjectivation. In the spirit of collaboration, new counter-discourses and counter-practices can be inaugurated I use the triptych of Nicodemus to explain my concept of transformation, which in turn, expands the interpretive capacity of my theology, providing new ideas and nuances (e.g., opposition as counter-point). I reinterpret baptism politically, making important connections between transgression, limit, and threshold In terms of a future application of the entitlement gender pattern, and proprietorial thinking, the issue of climate change stands out. This could include a genealogical study of the role entitlement plays in shaping attitudes towards the use of natural resources, the use of Christian texts in justifying entitlement (Gen 1:28 dominion), and the trivialization of the experience and findings of a range of scientific communities

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The problem of violence In the front bar of a hotel, a man begins jostling his friends. Inevitably, the wrestling deteriorates into a brawl as they stumble onto the street. Without warning, the man punches a teenager passing by, who collapses immediately. What was the man thinking? Was he thinking at all? Arguably, the attack is an example of the wider problem of male violence. There are other factors (e.g., aggrievement). Among them, I identify an excessive sense of entitlement as a galvanizing factor. This is because a sense of entitlement can be used to initiate and justifying controlling behaviour and violent actions. Further, with entitlement, there are legitimate and/or formal entitlements (legal, political). The sense of entitlement, however, found in controlling behaviour and violent actions, as well as strongman politics, is an exaggerated sense of entitlement. Perversely, excessive entitlement cannot be sated. Combined with the fear, the dissatisfaction generates fruitless attempts at gratification. Specifically, this entails a process of objectification, where the other is treated as a possession. On 6 January, for example, a horde of angry men and women stormed Capitol Hill. Clearly, it will be some time before we can fully appreciate the significance of that event, but strangely, it resonates with the one-punch attack. Yes, what were they thinking? Were they thinking at all? Moreover, some women were also involved. However, it was overwhelmingly a display of masculine entitlement. Subsequently, this brings us back to the issue of transforming the subject. Transformation entails the undoing and re-forming of subjects. At the personal level, spirituality and spiritual practices have an important place in therapeutic communities. These are transformative practices. Furthermore, analyzing violent subjects helps identify formative cultural factors. At the cultural level then, transformation changes the conditions of possibility, transforming the political rationalities and gender patterns that shape subject formation. The triptych of Nicodemus reveals a process of transformation, which sets him in opposition to the strongmen. This opposition is critical to the dynamic of the triptych. It constitutes a discursive intervention, a limit-experience, and a counterpoint that develops a narrativelife of its own, extending beyond the text. Nicodemus changed. Philosophically, this is an expression of newly discovered agency. Politically, this is a form of resistance. Theologically, this is life in the new age. In anticipation, the triptych provides an insight into the contemporary theologian’s vocation, establishing oppositions, discursively and practically, which constitute a limit-experience in the political realm. It is also an invitation to the church to continue to rethink the problem of violence, its own proprietorial thinking, the significance of gender patterns, and its life in politics. In the light of baptism, churches and Christians are also reminded of the importance and potential of this sacrament of resistance.

Index

A Abraham 100 Admire, A. 53 age after God 100–101 age of discipline 11 age of governmentality 11 age of security 10–11, 23, 24–25; dispositifs of violence in 31–32, 39; fear as characteristic of 31; premised on fear and insecurity 24; violence in 30–31 age of sovereignty 11 aggrieved entitlement 53–54, 135 Aghtaie, Nadia 54 Ahmed, S. 38, 116 Alcoff, L.M. 2 Allen, A. 83 Al-Shweiri, Dhia 63 anti-anthropology 6–7 appropriation 53, 57 Arendt, Hannah 9, 101 Armour, Ellen T. 4 Asher, F. 1, 29, 32 Ashton, J. 14 Ashwin, S. 38, 39 Augustine 93 authoritarianism 36, 37, 41 B Baaz, M. 111 Balibar, Étienne 9, 13, 26, 53, 57, 120 baptism 81–82, 120, 122–125; as limitexperience 123–124; as performative 122–123; readings of 122–123; as threshold experience 124; transformative process of 122–124 Barron, Steve 40 Beaudoin, Tom 81 Ben-Ghiat, R. 37

Benjamin, Walter 9 Berlusconi, Silvio 37 Bernauer, James 4, 5, 6, 7 Bernstein, Richard 27, 28 Bigo, D. 24 biopolitics 25; risk as epistemic object of 25 Bourdieu, Pierre 35, 119 Braidotti, Rosi 32, 121 Bretherton, L. 3 Bronze Age 29–30 brotherhood 60–61, 119, 126 Brown, R.E. 105 Brown, W. 10, 38, 58, 116 Buddhism 125 Butler, Judith 1, 3, 4, 9, 33, 60, 83, 86, 102, 118, 119 C care of the self 76 The Care of the Self (Foucault) 75 Carrette, Jeremy 5, 7, 8, 77 Cartesian moment 76 Cavanaugh, William 122 Chevalier, P. 53 Christchurch mosque shootings (March, 2019) 115–116 Christensen, A. 31 Christianity: baptism and 125; fear as part of legacy of 73; practices of compared to Hellenistic practices 74–75; renunciation 71–72; resurrection in 125; spirituality of 75; transformation and 74–75 church discipline 70; culture of obedience 72, 73 Collins Robert French Dictionary (CRFD) 53, 85 colonialism 28

Index 137 confession 15–16, 73 Connell, R. 22, 33, 50, 61 controlling behaviour 46, 61, 63; background of violence to 48 Copeland, S. 11, 14 Corradi, C. 53 counter (prefix) 13 counter-conduct 13, 120 counter discourse 3, 9, 12, 13, 103; church possibilities 118–120; embodying 114; role of in strongman politics 98; theology producing 16, 133 counter practice 3, 9, 12, 13; baptism as 86, 124, 125; church’s production 16, 120; political 122; role of in strongman politics 98, 118; theology producing 119 criminology 51; sex-biased explanations 51 cultural responses to conflict 29 cultural transformation: theology’s role in 12 culture, term, 11; dynamics of 11–12; gender-based violence and 11; theology as part of 11 cynicism 79–80 D Das, Veena 64 Dasgupta, Shamita Das 50 Davidson, A.L. 13, 79 Dean, M. 27, 115 Deleuze, G. 23, 100, 102 Delport, K.M. 93 Derrida, Jacques 9 desubjectivation concept 2, 4, 5, 16, 82–87, 132; baptism as sacrament 123–124; divine 15, 104–105, 110; ethical 85, 86; limit-experience of 121; queer-feminist reading of 85; as theological notion 86; theology of transformation and 134 Deuchar, Ross 113, 125 Dillon, Michael 25, 30, 31, 83, 116, 117 dispositionality 27 dispositif concept 4, 5, 10, 15; addresses complexity of violence 26; as applied to familial and military violence, 23–24; contemporary political systems as 38; as diagnostic tool 26–27; as frame 10, 31; neoliberalism and 24; non-arbitrary

system of relations in 59–60; of obedience 74; strength of 26; of strongman politics 10, 11, 24, 36–39, 111; war as 34 divine desubjectivation 3, 15, 86, 118, 131, 134; cultural level 110, 132; limit experience of 121; Nicodermus to illustrate process of 104–105; personal level 110, 126, 132 divinization of man 6 Dobash, R.E. 51, 52, 111 Dobash, R.P. 51, 52, 111 domestic violence (DV): practioners 46; repetition of 50 domination techniques 9 Dubilet, A. 3, 102 due diligence 25 Duriesmith, David 34, 48, 50, 54, 61, 62, 63, 64, 113 E ecclesiology 96 Edelman, Lee 85, 86 Elliott, N. 120 empire (as category) 98 entitlement, sense of 1, 132–133; analysis of within power relations 53; discourses 47–48; excessive level of 1, 48–49; gender pattern of 2, 10, 31–34; intimate partner violence and role of 112; legitimate 1; of male subject over female object 58; as masculine gender pattern 32, 40; as part of DV practitioner’s toolbox 46; privilege and 54; in quasi-right discourse 56, 70; as rights discourse 47–48, 56; spiral of 48; working definition of 15 entitlement ideologies 40 entrenched entitlement 33 eternal life 3, 101–102 ethics 6, 7 exceptionalism 54 F Fanon, Frantz 27 fascism 36, 37, 38, 41 fear 116; of being made to feel like a woman 63–64; biopoliticization of war as response to 31; entitlement and 31; as part of Christian legacy 73; significance of 134; source of 117; transmogrified into risk 31

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femicide 46, 49; as challenge to gender neutrality of homicide 52; statistics 51 femininity 48, 62 feminist philosophy 4 Féron, É. 49, 65 Finchelstein, Federico 37, 38, 119 Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schüssler 14, 16, 92, 96–98, 105, 125 Fisher-Townsend, B. 112, 113 Fitz-Gibbon, K. 60, 65, 114 formative masculine gender patterns 22 Forth, Christopher 35, 64, 119 Foucault, Michel 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, 39, 41, 52, 58, 59, 70, 71, 72, 74, 78–79, 84, 100, 115, 116, 118, 119, 132 freedom as resistance 9 G Gadamer, H. 114 Gaita, Raymond 95 Gangoli, Geetanjali 54 gender 97; bias in recording of violence against women 51; compared to sex 32; as framework for political rationalities 32; as kind of doing 35; mass murder and 53–54; perspective on war 34–36; as rational configuration 33; violence and 64–65 gender-based violence 1, 10; as contested concept 15; culture and 11; dispositif of 48; in familial settings 3, 10, 11, 23, 24; intimate partner violence (IPV) as example of 48; in military settings 3, 10, 11, 23, 24; subject formation and shaping rationalities 22–23 gender patterns of entitlement 23, 32, 131; emergence of, 32–33; male violence 33; as working concept 33 gender symbols 22–23 gender theory 33 Gilchrist, Elizabeth 54, 113 Glendon, Mary Ann 56 Golder, B. 59 Gordon, P.E. 38 governmentality 24 Guattari, F. 102 Gudmand-Høyer, M. 26, 83, 115 Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden 30

H Hadot, Pierre 77, 78 Halsey, M. 1, 29, 32 Hanssen, B. 84 Harcourt, Bernard 13, 41, 117, 120, 121 Hebrew Scriptures 99–100 Hellenistic practices 81; compared to Christian 74–75; of conversion compared to Christian repentance 76–77 hermeneutic of suspicion 93–94 The Hermeneutics of the Subject (Foucault) 75, 76 Hoeft, J.M. 11 The Holocaust 30 homicide 111–112 homoerotic 64 homosocial 64 Horsley, R.A. 103 Horujy, S.S. 71 Howe, Adrian 51 Huffer, Lynn 83, 85, 86 Hughes, E. 53 human existence 7; non-violent nature of 30 I immanence 3, 14; transcendence debate 102 international relations (IR) 24 intimate partner violence (IPV) 15, 16, 29, 46; accountability 112; as coercive control 56, 59; entitlement and 54, 112; as example of genderbased violence 48; as multilayered problem 48; murderers and 51–52, 111; political contexts of 50; power and status in 49–50; in public sphere 50; quasi-rights talk and 47; relationship to other forms of gendered violence 49–50; spirituality practices and 126; as strategic rather than incidental 50; types of 49; working definition of 49 intimate terrorism 46, 49 Irigaray, Luce 4 J January 6, 2021 storming of Capitol Hill 38, 131, 135

Index 139 Jensen, Robin M. 102, 123, 124 Jesus 80, 97, 101, 132; baptism of 123, 131; Nicodemus and 14, 99, 101, 102–105, 122; story of 94, 122, 124 Johnson, M.P. 46, 49 Jordan, Mark 8, 121 Junge, M. 118 K Kalish, R. 53 Kaufman, G.D. 11 Kearney, Richard 100, 101 Kharkhordin, O. 72 Kimmel, Michael 40, 53, 54 kyriachy 97 L Laclau, Ernest 39, 40 Lee, M. 1, 29, 32 Lemke, T. 73, 116 limit-experience 2, 92; baptism as 123–124; as boundary 126; as threshold 126; transformation as 121 limit/threshold 121–122 Locke, John 56, 57 logics of pre-emption 25 Lombard, Nancy 33, 54, 113, 114 Long, S.D. 11 Lossky, V. 95 Luther, Martin 13 M Maher, J. 60 Mahmood, S. 105, 111 male entitlement 113–115 Malešević, Siniša 28, 29, 30, 31, 35, 46, 61 manhood-politics relations 10, 38–41 manliness 35 Mann, Bonnie 1, 34, 35, 36, 38, 54, 61, 63, 65, 117 marginalization 53–54, 100; of God and church in society 100 marriage as licence to control 46 masculine sociodicy 35 masculinity 62; construction of 131; fear in entitled 63–64; subordinated 113 McCarry, Melanie 54, 63, 113 McCluskey, E. 24 McCulloch, J. 60 McLaren, Margaret 27 McSweeney, John 5

Meens, Robert 71, 72, 73 messianism 41 metanoia 81–82 metaphysics 5, 75 microeschatology 101 microsolidarity 29, 35, 49, 60, 61, 63 Miethe, T.D. 52, 112 Mikkelsen, H.M. 62 militarized masculinity 54 Miller, Stephen 40 modern warfare 30 Moltmann, Jürgen 3, 14 Mona, L. 111 monasticism 74 murderer as hero 51 Myers, B. 93, 120 Myers, C. 124 mysticism 13 N narcissism 38, 40 Nason-Clark, N. 112, 113 natality 101 Naudi, M. 53 negative theology 5, 6 Nelson, J.M. 125 neoliberalism 12, 24, 25, 63; complexities of term 115–116; objectification of women in 116–117; as outworking of a biopolitics 116; subject formation under 115–116 neoliberal rationality 115–117 Neolithic era 29 Newman, S. 3 Nichols, Robert 58 Nicodemus 102–106, 117–118, 122, 132, 135 O obedience, culture of 72, 73, 74 objectification of women 10, 15 Ogden, S.G. 15, 80, 95, 105, 125 Oksala, Johanna 29, 33, 64, 115 O’Leary, T. 124 one-punch attack 1, 9, 32; as inexplicable behaviour 115 On the Government of the Living (Foucault) 72 The Order of Things (Foucault) 82 P Pain, R. 31 Pearse, R. 33

140

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penance 71–72; second 73, 80 performativity 119 Perón, Juan 37 personal identity 56–57, 134 personal transformation 14 Phillips, E. 3 philosophy: compared to spirituality 75–76; theology and 7–8 Pinochet, Augusto 37 political logic 39 political spirituality 83 populism 36, 37–38, 39–40, 41 positive anthropology 105 possessions 49, 57 post-metaphysical theology 5 postmodern theology 5 poststructuralism 33 power-relations 9; archetypal fear of losing power 64; counter-conduct in 13; entitlement analysis within 53; shift from territory to population 24–25; violence and 28–29 premodern churches (in Latin West) 71–72 primacy of individual rights 47 “The prisons of man” (Bernauer) 5–6 privilege 54 problematization 8–9 proprietorial thinking 33–34, 55–56, 57 Pui-Lan, K. 3 Putin, Vladimir 37, 38 R racism 11, 38, 41, 58 Raffnsøe, S. 26, 83, 115 rape (in war) 32, 49 Rasmussen, P. 31 rationality 27; as form of individualizing power 27; political and strongman politics 114–115; relationship to subjectivity and male violence 52–53; violence and 33 Ray, Larry 50, 54, 117 Reagan, Ronald 25 recursive dispossession 58 reflexivity 111 Regoeczi, W.C. 52, 112 Reid, J. 30, 31, 83 reign of God 14 remorse 95 renunciation 71, 74 resurrection 125

rights talk 46, 47, 56, 132; consequences of 56–57 risk management 25, 116 Rohingya peoples 25 Rorty, Richard 38 Rose, N. 115 Ross, S.A. 123 Ruether, Rosemary Radford 40, 100, 122 S Saving Private Ryan (movie) 34 Schneiders, S.M. 15 Scott, J.W. 22 security: apparatuses of 24; biopolitics and 25; as contested concept 24 Segovia, F.F. 15, 105, 106 self-knowledge 93 sense of entitlement 46 September 11, 2001 attacks, 23, 38, 116; as defining moment in US 38 sexed violence 51 sexism 38, 41 sexual violence 50 Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (SOED) 56 Sjoberg, Laura 22, 24, 34, 35 Søgaard, T.F. 62 sovereign masculinity 35 spirituality 16, 132; compared to philosophy 75–76; essential for ontology of ourselves 77; knowledge of shifts to intellectual knowledge 76; spiritual practices and 110, 135 spiritual practices 16, 70, 81, 111–112, 113, 131; exploration of 126; linked to transformation 2, 70, 81, 132; spirituality and 110, 135 Stark, Evan 46, 47, 48, 50, 52, 56, 59 status 50 St. Bernard 93 Stephan, Patrick 124, 125 Stoic philosophy 125 strongman politics 2, 9, 36, 39–40; discourses on women 119, 126, 132–133; dispositif of 10, 11, 15, 24, 36–39, 55, 111, 125; exceptionalism in 39; fear and compliance under 118–119; fear of 31; influence of on other men 117–118; neoliberalism and 12; political rationalities and 114–115; as source of transcendence

Index 141 3, 102; subject formation and 114–115 subject formation 22, 83–84; gender as norm 119; rationalities that shape 22–23, 27; strongman politics and 114–115 subjectivation: as subject formation 83–84 subjectivity 8; entwined with truth 72–73; multiples of 9; relationship to rationality and male violence 52–53 T Taylor, Charles 102 Taylor, M.C. 100 Tertullian, 73, 81 Thaning, M.S. 26, 83, 115 Thatcher, Margaret 25 theatrical performance 7 theological appropriations 5 theology: culture as part of 11; discourse and practice in tandem in 12–13; Foucault and 4–8; negative 5, 6; philosophy and 7–8; politics and 3, 133–134; post-metaphysical 5; postmodern 5; as resistance 3; role of in cultural transformation 12; task of 133 theology, concept of, 117–118; counter discourses on strongman politics 119–120 theology of transformation 12 Thirty-Year War 30 threat identification 116 threat management 116 threshold 85, 121; baptism as experience of 124 Tillich, P. 12, 101, 122 Tillichian demonic 12 trajectories (of transformation) 70–71; Foucault’s alternative to church 70–71, 81; negative church 70, 81; religious 71, 82; secular construal 70–71 transformation of violent offenders 1, 7, 40; as act of resistance 110–111; approaches 131–132; the church and 121–122; cultural (macro) analysis of 1–2, 9, 11; desubjectivation incorporated into 84–86; Foucault and 74–78; genealogy of 76; immanent account of 3, 102; importance of ecclesiastical practices

for cultural 122; inherent potential for 3; long-term preventative measures 3–4; nature of 125–126; ontological 71; personal (micro) analysis of 1, 9, 11; related to selfknowledge, self-critique and problems of power 94; secular construal 70–71; short-term practical steps 3; spiritual practices and 2, 110–111; theology of 2, 96–97; trajectories 70–71 transgression 85, 121 triptych of Nicodemus 14–15, 16, 78, 80, 92, 99, 102–106, 122, 124, 132, 134 True, Jacqui 47, 54 Trump, Donald 37, 38, 40 Trumpism 38 truth-telling 70–71, 104; cynicism as an example of 79–80; parrhesia as 78–79, 80; shift from truth-doing 71, 73–74 U Uighur peoples 25 Utrata, J. 38, 39 V veridiction 74 Vinthagen, S. 111 violence: as aporetic 23, 26, 27; as birthright 55; of colonization 28; complexity of 28; contested nature of 23–24, 27–28; at cultural level 10; development over time 30; dimensions of 9–10; divergent views on 28; gender as germane to 22, 64–65; as generator of new social realities 29; history of 28–31; as inescapable 9; learned behaviour and 54–55; as learned subject 30; normalization of 11; as part of being male 33; power linked to 28–29; privatization of 50; reading 23–24; resistance to 13; sociological perspective on 28–31; strategic thinking behind 61–62; structural dynamics of 29; as symptom of thwarted control 48 violent masculinities 49–50; collective nature of 60–61 Vito, C. 53 Volkan, Vamik 40

142

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W Walby, S. 22, 29, 49, 50, 64 Walklate, S. 65, 114 war 9; as coercive violence 24; entitlement in research 54; gender, gender-relations and violence linkage to 22; in gender construction 22–23; as gender histories 34; gender perspective on 34–36; limits to category of 28; making enemy appear soft in 65; narratives of as sustainers of gender logic 34–35; new wars 62; as shaped by masculinity 34; as social not biological fact 30; and violence as integral parts of social life 29 war and conflict 34 Ward, Graham 12, 118

warrior manhood 64 Weil, S. 53 Welch, S.D. 13 Westermann, C. 102 white supremacism 40 Wichum, Ricky 25 Wilcox, L.B. 32, 114 Williams, Rowan 3, 16, 92–96, 98, 117 Williamson, Emma 54, 63 wo/men 97 World War I 30, 37 World War II 37 Wrathall, M.A. 99 Z Zivi, Karen 47