Yoga and Indian soft power

Adda: South Asian Seminar Series


Dr Patrick McCartney, Kyoto University, Japan


RegNet Meeting Room, Level 3, Coombs Extension, Building #8, ANU


Tuesday, 31 July, 2018 - 11:00 to 12:00

Yoga and Indian soft power: the shadowlands of global yoga, unlikely alliances, strategic syncretism and de-post-colonizing yogatopia(s)

In order to de-post-colonize yoga, it necessary to excavate deeper into the source of global yoga’s nostalgic mood and narratives through understanding the ‘Vedic god’ ; which, through discursive and symbolic realms, is promoted and shared by the yoga industrial complex, the Indian state, and the Hindutva parivar. By analyzing the intertextuality inherent in the creation of shared narratives and heterotopic spaces; and, by anchoring these polysemous images that relate to ideal, yogic ‘ways of life’, we begin to understand how the rarefaction of complex signs occurs through commodification; which enables perceptibly seamless intermingling of meanings and identities through the sharing of factoids, and includes the sanitizing of Hindu supremacist ideology through promotion of a banal, effective ‘soft Hindutva’. This allows for unwitting support by global yogis through various heterotopic spaces, such as: yoga festivals, social media groups, casual conversations, and in institutionalized pedagogical material of yoga teacher-training manuals.
Dr Patrick McCartney, PhD is a JSPS Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Japan; a Research Associate at Nanzan Anthropological Institute, Nanzan University, Japan; and a Visiting Fellow at the South and South-East Asian Studies Department, The Australian National University, Australia.
Building upon an anthropological premise, Patrick’s work intersects the commodification of desire with the consumption of yoga-inspired lifestyles, and explores the consumption of global yoga through the politics of imagination and the sociology of spirituality.
Patrick’s current project focuses specifically on the Japanese yoga industry, which includes understanding the aspirations of Japanese yoga consumers and how modern yoga is reconstituted in unique ways into Japanese culture. You can follow this project at Yogascapes in Japan, as well as his articles and films.

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