Flexible India: Yoga's Cultural and Political Tensions

    Research output: Book/ReportBook


    Yoga has offered the Indian state unprecedented opportunities for global, media-savvy political performance. Under Modi, it has promoted yoga tourism and staged mass yoga sessions, and Indian officials have proposed yoga as a national solution to a range of social problems, from reducing rape to curing cancer. But as yoga has gone global, its cultural meanings have spiraled far and wide. In Flexible India, Shameem Black travels into unexpected realms of popular culture in English from India, its diaspora, and the West to explore and critique yoga as an exercise in cultural power. Drawing on her own experience and her readings of political spectacles, yoga murder mysteries, court cases, art installations, and digital media, Black shows how yoga’s imaginative power supports diverse political and cultural ends. Although many cultural practices in today’s India exemplify “culture wars” between liberal and conservative agendas, Flexible India argues that visions of yoga offer a “culture peace” that conceals, without resolving, such tensions. This flexibility allows states, corporations, and individuals to think of themselves as welcoming and tolerant while still, in many cases, supporting practices that make minority populations increasingly vulnerable. However, as Black shows, yoga can also be imagined in ways that offer new tools for critiquing hierarchical structures of power and race, Hindu nationalism, cultural appropriation, and self-help capitalism.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherColumbia University Press
    Number of pages288
    ISBN (Print)9780231206020
    Publication statusPublished - 2024

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