ABSTRACTS and PDF Links:
1. “The Governmentality of Promoting Ex-gay ‘Change’ in the Public Sphere.” Canadian Journal of Communication. Forthcoming this Fall. (PR)
This article argues that, in spite of Habermas’ analysis of commercial media, “earned media” showcasing the Christian ex-gay movement, which circulate as the result of a Christian Right marketing strategy, have not led to a paralysis of society’s ability to debate the issue of ex-gay “change.” Instead the controversy operates as “neoliberal theatre of suffering,” which has backfired against the ex-gay movement. Media coverage representing as entertainment the shame of those who struggle against unwanted same-sex desire is certainly impoverished by the free-market protocols that drive it. It does not achieve the full reasoned deliberation Habermas calls for in the public sphere. However, the ex-gay debate still allows for competing governmental perspectives to intersect and modify each other in ways that extend beyond mere commercialism.
Link will be added once officially published
2. “Cannibalism, Communion, and Multifaith Sacrifice in the Novel and Film Life of Pi.” The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 27.1 (2015): 1-15 (PR)
This article argues that Yann Martel’s and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is a multicultural story of maternal cannibalism that resists discourses of cannibalism that assume only the excess of the Other can eat human flesh. Whereas on one level the main character’s cannibalism is sublimated into a tale about a boy and four animals on a lifeboat, on a deeper level it is about a Hindu mother’s Christian sacrifice that answers her son’s Islamic prayers. Although psychoanalytic theory is used to unlock the maternal cannibalism underlying Pi’s tale, the discourse of oedipal and pre-oedipal desire is rejected as discounting the specificity of Pi’s adult trauma.
3. “Shifting Psychological Knowledge and Conservative Christian Media Controversies: Blaming the Judeo-Christian Tradition for Anti-Gay Prejudice in Psychiatry and Psychology.” The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society 3.4 (2014): 51-77 (PR)
Contrary to statements made in the mass media controversy over the Christian ex-gay movement, this paper will demonstrate that the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 did not amount to an instant “born again” conversion in psychological thought, nor did it signify the power of special interest politics trumping “true” science. An analysis of statements in multiple psychology textbooks and encyclopaedias published after 1970 will show that declassification initiated a near two-decade long “debate” in which conflicting scientific studies were used strategically and governmentally, sometimes in combination with the deployment of extreme stereotypes, to influence public and professional perceptions of an event with which many professionals disagreed. However, by the time the transformation in thought was complete—a transformation that was influenced by both the AIDS crisis and an antigay Christian media campaign—it had all but vanquished those who maintained a mental illness model of homosexuality from the disciplines of the psyche. It also culminated in the blaming of the Judeo-Christian tradition for psychiatry and psychology’s longstanding antigay prejudice and recognized the ex-gay movement as a contemporary problem for psychiatry and psychology.
4. “Confessing Our Selves: Truth and Identity Politics in the Christian Ex-Gay Movement” The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society 1.3 (2011): 205-220. (PR)
This article analyzes “queer” confessional practices in the Ex-gay Movement using a governmental perspective. The Ex-gay Movement is a loosely organized phenomenon that mixes ancient spiritual practices rooted in confession, prayer, and Bible study with modern psychological techniques rooted in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. It claims to “heal” homosexuality. Although the movement accepts a queer definition of sexual fluidity, it still encourages LGBTQ people to turn towards the “truth” and change their sexual and religious orientations so as to live good “straight” Christian lives. For ex-gays living within a religiously ordained heteronormative context, however, the fluidity of sexuality is not a spectrum that opens up new possibilities—it is a situation that must be struggled against and corrected through religious and psychological work. The primary technique through which the self-deprecating queerness of this movement will be critiqued is the ancient practice of confession. This requires an examination of correspondences between aspects of this movement and aspects of the historical research of Michel Foucault, whose analyses of both modern and ancient forms of governmentality provides the basis for this paper’s theoretical approach.
5. “Television Discourse and Governmentality: Considering Da Vinci’s Inquest and Da Vinci’s City Hall as Citizen Projects.” CineAction 82/83 (2010): 48-57.
This article uses a Foucauldian governmental approach that borrows from political economy to analyze the obvious political agenda of Canada’s Da Vinci series, which aired for eight years on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A governmental approach to media is a context-specific method that analyzes media institutions, products, and discourses in terms of tactics and strategies of influence and control where power and knowledge work together to regulate, manage, maintain and/or problematize, change and resist behavioural discipline. With respect to political economy, while this paper does consider the profit-driven commercialization of the Canadian television industry as productive context for the show, the political-economic emphasis is on how the discourse of the Da Vinci series participates in structuring, promoting, and seeking to change real-life social relations, particularly the relations between certain governmental institutions (i.e., the Vancouver Police Department and the Vancouver Coroner’s Office) and certain vulnerable populations in downtown Vancouver (i.e., Downtown Eastside drug users and sex-trade workers). I conclude by suggesting that in this case the show’s political agenda operates above and beyond the desire of the Da Vinci producers to generate commercial revenue.