Exercises of Power: Applying Foucault's Conceptions of Power to Mazahua and Inuit Enculturation Events

Joanna Rae Pearson


By applying three prominent Foucaudian concepts related to the exercise of power in terms of the individual - 'acting upon action', 'pastoral power', and the use of 'power technologies' - this paper explores the enculturation of children into the Mazahua and Inuit cultures. Power, according to Foucault, is increasingly located at the individual level. As a result, Foucault's theories regarding power relations, power technologies, and the exercise of power have been used to inform many approaches to the study of human interactions. This paper defines each of these power concepts before applying them to each enculturation event. It is argued that these events, taken from anthropological cases studies, demonstrate the series of power networks that exist at the level of family, kinship, knowledge, and technology. It is further argued that these enculturation events can be better understood by reflecting upon the role that power, as conceptualized by Foucault, plays within each event.

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