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Presented By: Center for South Asian Studies

CSAS Lecture | India's Newest Poses: The Imaginative Life of Yoga

Shameem Black, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Australian National University

Shameem Black, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Australian National University Shameem Black, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Australian National University
Shameem Black, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Australian National University
Yoga, a practice with a long history, has come to figure new ideas of India within twenty-first-century worlds of intense commodification, technological perfectionism, racial hierarchies, and violence of varying speeds. Under the sign of yoga, India can pose, and be posed as, the ultimate metaphor for flexible resilience. In this talk, I analyse diasporic ambivalence toward these new poses. Where yoga is often popularly celebrated for its ability to promote flexibility as a public and private good, imaginative work from the Indian diaspora has been critical of the very concept of flexibility. Such work reveals how the flexibilities demanded of the diaspora have served as assets that most benefit non-Indian corporations or individuals. Yet such critique can also recuperate the flexibility of yoga for more politically resistant and imaginatively hopeful ends. Engaging with the work of diasporic artists such as Chiraag Bhakta and Reetika Vazirani, I contend that it is by critiquing the sign of yoga most associated with flexibility – postural practice – and by engaging alternative histories of what yoga might mean, that diasporic artists and writers call into being a flexibility that works towards their own needs, not simply to benefit the capitalist expansions or racial hierarchies that structure their everyday lives.

Dr. Shameem Black is a literary, gender and cultural studies scholar of modern India and its diaspora who specialises in the ethics and politics of twenty-first-century culture. She teaches at the Australian National University, where she is based in Gender, Media and Cultural Studies in the School of Culture, History and Language. She is the author of Fiction Across Borders (Columbia University Press) and numerous articles on literature, gender and culture. She serves as deputy director for the ANU's South Asia Research Institute and is the cofounder of Samyama Lab, a partnership designed to integrate academic and yogic forms of authority. Her most recent work takes yoga as a lens to understand key contradictions in twenty-first-century ideas of “India” and “Indianness,” especially in the context of national soft power aspirations, expanding capitalist practices, international migrations, and political violence. This project integrates critical and creative approaches to analyse how the imaginative life of yoga sheds light on these tensions.

Please register in advance for this zoom webinar here: https://umich.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYof-muqzwuEtajRwvtmdRFOpSpWQB8nEPe

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Shameem Black, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Australian National University Shameem Black, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Australian National University
Shameem Black, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, Australian National University

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