Constituting Governable Subjects: Foucault and Governmentality’s Account of ‘Governing through Freedom’ and the Case of the Indigenous Populations of Canada

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Budreau, Marley N.
Foucault , Governmentality
In 1978, Michel Foucault introduced his genealogy of the modern state, or alternatively, what he termed governmentality in which politics is understood as the product of rationalities which make up rule. Foucault’s problematic was to uncover the rationalities of bio-power or bio-politics which is situated within liberal rule. For Foucault, liberalism is to be viewed as a philosophy of rule that concerned itself with the rationality that the state may be governing too heavily and which increasingly divested itself of its regulatory capacities and consequently sought to guide the conduct of the population through often indirect and distanced means. Subsequently, others have built upon Foucault’s work on liberalism and have concluded that the phrase governing through freedom adequately characterizes liberal philosophies of rule. However, numerous critiques have been raised concerning the contention that liberalism brought with it a substantiated increase in freedom. It is this critique that the current research wishes to expand upon by using the case of the Aboriginal peoples throughout Canada between the eighteenth and nineteenth century to display that the concept of governing through freedom is far too restricted and that the governmentality literature often presents an incomplete account of classical liberalism.
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