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Monasterium panopticum: On Surveillance in a Medieval Cloister - the Case of St. Gall
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2006 (English)In: Frühmittelalterliche Studien, ISSN 0071-9706, E-ISSN 1613-0812, Vol. 40, 167-182 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article aims to explore the practice of surveillance of monks in the early medieval monasteries on the example of St. Gall as described in Ekkehard IV's . Based on Erving Goffman's concept of total institution the study presents the available disciplinary measures of social control. Discussing with the restrictive methods and absolute attitude towards supervision that emerge from the normative sources of that time it is argued that in the everyday monastic life uses and importance attached to the apparatus of surveillance were far more nuanced and adjustable to circumstances.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter , 2006. Vol. 40, 167-182 p.
Keyword [en]
St Gall, surveillance, panopticon, monasticism, Michel Foucault
National Category
Religious Studies Social Anthropology
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-13316ISBN: 978-3-11-018637-6OAI: diva2:179836
Available from: 2008-03-17 Created: 2008-03-17 Last updated: 2010-10-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Total St Gall: Medieval Monastery as a Disciplinary Institution
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Total St Gall: Medieval Monastery as a Disciplinary Institution
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How much was a medieval monastery reminiscent of a modern prison? Or insane asylum? And if it was in the least - what can such a metaphor tell us about power relations structuring the life of medieval monks?

The purpose of this compilation thesis (sammanläggningsavhandling) is to render explicit and analyze relations of power and modes of control comprising the social tissue of early medieval Benedictine monasteries. By bringing up the examples of tenth- and eleventh-century monasteries of St Gall, Fulda, and Bury St Edmunds, this thesis seeks to understand what power was in medieval monasteries, how and between whom it was exercised, what and how it affected in terms of collective and individual identity.

The thesis consists of three introductory chapters, four previously published empirical articles, and a concluding remarks section. Article 1 investigates the problem of surveillance and patterns of social control dispersed in the monastery of St Gall. Article 2 studies the early and high medieval institutional expectations and means of enforcement of the monk’s role. Article 3 scrutinizes an example of a persecution process and a set of defense measures in the hands of the St Gall community warding off an unwanted visitor. Article 4 examines a number of internal monastic conflicts from several monasteries and strategies, both political and cognitive, guiding them.

In investigating these problems, the thesis proceeds in a manner of deliberate anachronism. It asks questions about how human subjectivity was manufactured in early medieval St Gall, what were a medieval monastery’s ‘conditions of possibility’ to operate as a social regime, or oral and literary means of conflict management etc. The crucial modern social theories on which the thesis hinges are: Erving Goffman’s notion of ‘total institution’, and Michel Foucault’s analysis of power, as well as Pierre Bourdieu’s logic of action.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2010. 116 p.
Stockholm studies in history, ISSN 0491-0842 ; 92
‘total institution’, Casus sancti Galli, St Gall, Ekkehard IV, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, power relations, stigma, subjectivity, Benedictine monasticism, early Middle Ages, Asylums, monastery
National Category
Religious Studies Sociology
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43166 (URN)978-91-86071-47-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-12-17, hörsal 7, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-11-25 Created: 2010-10-01 Last updated: 2015-06-16Bibliographically approved

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