Are you curious about what comes next for YiJ? Then, please have a look at how the next project proposal is developing, at this link. Would love to know what you think. It's only a short read, PLUS there is a video!!! :-)
The original review is featured at Reading Religion.
Editor(s): Paul G. Hackett Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, October 2017.
280 pages. $105.00. Hardcover. ISBN 9781498552295.
Link to Publisher’s Website For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Edited volumes often include different topics that are challenging to review. This can be that the collected essays might be of varying levels of interest. Initially this volume, The Assimilation of Yogic Religions Through Pop Culture, edited by Paul G. Hackett, seemed very interesting and relevant. However, when the hard copy arrived, and I paid closer attention to the table of contents, I realized that most of the chapters were about television shows and comic book superheroes that I personally have very little interest in. I never watched David Lynch’s Twin Peaks; I know next to nothing about Spiderman and Batman; and the worlds of science-fiction related to Doctor Who and Star Trek are denuded -scapes within my imagination. Therefore, with a certain amount of anxiety I embarked on this review, which I expected to be dull and unfulfilling. However, it was specifically this reason that urged me to review this book, and ultimately, I am very glad that I did.
Over the nine chapters that are equally distributed within three thematically oriented parts (1: Theatre and Film, 2: Television and Serials, and 3: Comic Books and Graphic Novels), the richness of these genres is discussed in such a way so as to entice exploration; either for the very first time, or to revisit them so as to see these pop cultural icons through a new lens. This is what stands out as the strength of these essays. Now, other pop cultural icons seem less complicated and, instead, the seemingly banal production of pop culture appears embedded within larger, transcultural currents than were previously considered.
It is difficult to choose a favorite or stand out chapter given that all of them, in some way, presented new material that caused deep reflection. Possibly, however, it was Adam Krug’s chapter dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Twin Peaks and its relation to Tibetan Buddhism that stands out the most. This is not to say that the other chapters were less engaging or theoretically bare. Rather, it is that this chapter allowed me to penetrate into the confusing world of Lynch’s art that was not accessible in my adolescent self while trying to watch it in the early 1990s. In similar ways to the other chapters and how they deal with their topics, Krug opens up the complicated world of the Twin Peaks reality to demonstrate how deeply enmeshed and complicated the psychology of Buddhism is within the logic of the show; how the zenith of Tibetan Buddhism’s global popularity during the 1990’s zeitgeist was a historical moment that was as much a consequence as it was a catalyst to the ways in which Buddhism was constructed within Twin Peaks; and, also, how it was globally imagined and consumed.
Each chapter reveals various characters and historical contexts involved in their creation that are utterly fascinating. This rhetorical process generally involved complicating the character beyond the two dimensions of a television screen or comic book frame, and contextualizing them within deeper transcultural discussions. This is evident in chapter 8 where Rex Barnes discusses the translocation of Spiderman into an Indian context, as Peter Parker becomes Pravitr Prabhakar (206). These nominal adaptations aside, a deeper critical analysis related to the significant misrepresentation that Indian comics use “magic” to justify superheroes’s powers, while American comics use “science,” explores the idea beyond cultural essentialism and cultural exploitation to present a compelling invitation to rethink cultural categories underlying transcriptions (214).
The review took longer to complete than expected given there were several moments in each chapter that compelled me to put the book down and search online for certain characters, series, and scenes. While the descriptions in the book around these characters and structures are more than sufficient, it is the way in which they are discussed that compelled me to explore these characters in more depth by watching, perhaps, not only the trailers of particular films mentioned, but also, on some occasions, the film in its entirety.
Inspired by the richness of discussion and insight in each chapter, even non-experts of comparative religions or non-fans of these pop-cultural icons will find interesting the insights provided into various streams of traditional religious practices and identities from exotically-othered parts of Asia which have historically played a role in shaping popular representations of Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, various strands of Hinduism—particularly Tantra—and how these continue to be borrowed, appropriated, misrepresented, filtered, or woven into the practices and imaginary fabric of global popular culture.
It is with Hackett’s closing remarks (247-48) that we find a way to appreciate the transcultural flows of knowledge embedded within popular culture. While there are many ways in which the cultural borrowing and white-washing of “yogic” religions occurs, within the commodified global consumption-scape and its increasing blending of multi-ethnic and multi-religious cultures, Hackett reminds us that acceptance of syncretic (yogic) religious sentiments relies upon traditional symbols and vocabulary being de-anchored and reset within familiar terms to the new audience. While this can be a form of epistemic violence and cultural imperialism–and can result in traditional symbols and terms being grossly divorced from their initial contexts–the less pathologically exploitative side of transcultural flows potentially leads to deeper levels of cross-cultural religious appreciation. Therefore, the strength of this book is that it demonstrates ways in which popular culture enables new audiences to engage with challenging foreign concepts in familiar and palatable ways. This, ultimately, can lead to exploring these concepts within their original settings, beyond the pop cultural context. In doing so, we learn that comics have an important role to play in the world.
About the Reviewer(s): Patrick McCartney is a JSPS postdoctoral fellow in the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies at Kyoto University, Japan.
Date of Review: January 5, 2019
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): Paul G. Hackett has taught at Columbia University.
Categories: popular culture 20th century 21st century ritual Central Asia
Keywords: yoga, yogic, India, Tibet, China, meditation
© 2018 American Academy of Religion. All Rights Reserved. ISSN 2475-207X
This is the first episode of the Yogascapes in Japan Podcast that is a result of the Yoga, Movement, and Space Conference. This event occurred during early November 2018 at the Institute of Liberal Arts at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. It was partially funded by the ILA, as well as the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. Assistance was also given by the Organization for Identity and Cultural Development.
In this episode, Constanza Travaglia discusses her research intentions for a future PhD project around issues related to identity and performativity in global yoga festivals.
The video is on the YiJ website, here. But, you can also watch it here through Youtube, below.
Just got the nod. I am very chuffed. :-)
I wrote this paper around 18 months ago. It was passed over by one journal. However, the 2nd attempt has been successful. Finally. I sent it in February 2018 to Politics and Religion Journal. It passed the first review without any problems. However, the 2nd reviewer said basically the complete opposite to the first reviewer. Which is odd. While one said it was an excellent critique of modern yoga and the indelible links to politics. The other said it was a cultural marxist manifesto, and that I have no idea about Indian society and politics, especially related to yoga. I kind of take this as a compliment, as it seems to clearly show the positionality of this reviewer. It also shows how subjective a review can be, and even though it is double blind, etc...and meant to be objective, it seems to not be so. However, the 3rd and final reviewer also passed it with a glowing review.
I'm not sure when it will be published. Maybe in the 1st or 2nd edition, next year.
This link will take you to all their editions going back to 2007.
All the editions are open access, so they are freely available and not kept behind a paywall.
Zombie Languages, Ambiguous Nationalism, and the Second-Language Acquisition of Sanskrit: An Update on the Imagining Sanskrit Land Project
Patrick McCartney, Phd - JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow - Kyoto University
Date: Tuesday 27 November 2018
Location: Kyoto University, Yoshida Main Campus, Faculty of Letters Main Building (Building 8 https://www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/access/main-campus-map.html), Level 2, Seminar Room 3
Time: 9:00am - 10:15am (GMT+9)
The Imagining Sanskrit Land project is a secondary, self-funded project that I attend to in my spare time. I first became interested in this topic of language revival through studies in archaeology; which flowed into higher-level studies in historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, Indo-European studies, and a particular focus on South Asian languages. Learning about communities in India that still speak Sanskrit, in 2009 I spent 3-months conducting my master's research that focused on code-switching/mixing between Hindi and Sanskrit in a Mahāvidyalaya in Gujarat. This is the same ashram where I conducted my PhD fieldwork over 12 months during 2012-13.
Throughout this project I have endeavoured to document how Sanskrit survives as something of a 'zombie language'. I have approached this research through the lens of linguistic human rights, language revival, and second-language acquisition. Over the years spent in India, I met many people from all walks of life who informed me of 'a village in India where everyone speaks Sanskrit'. I became intrigued by this proposition; and more so by the gulf between those who asserted it to be true and those who asserted it to be completely false. In an attempt to ascertain the veracity of these claims and put them into perspective through a sociolinguistic lens, I have over the last 6 years collected many rumours of potential Sanskrit-speaking villages. Due to the lack of funds and time, I am only part-way through ticking these villages off the list. I have purposely avoided documenting the higher-registers of Sanskrit linked to ritual specialists trained in traditional pāṭhaśālas. Instead, I have focused on the villages that have been cultivated as language nests by the RSS and its linguistic wing, Samskrita Bharati. Sanskrit has an interesting role in the moral philosophy of the Hindu nationalist project. So too, the monolithic Indian village, as mythologised by Gandhi, has become ambiguous. At least, due to technological advancements, particularly to do with telecommunication, the journey and barrier between between urban and rural -scapes has become, as Appadurai extols, ambiguous. This has led me to explore issues related to the broader implications of Sanskrit's imposition in areas within India that have less prestigious languages. India has a very poor record in protecting unscheduled languages, and the rate of language shift and linguicide (or glottophagy) is one of the worst amongst nation states https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/a-language-is-not-just-words-it-s-also-about-political-power-of-the-people/story-fRxRLAdYOEhqZiLoWp4xwJ.html. This is a key topic of concern for the People's Linguistic Study of India https://sari.anu.edu.au/events/sari-annual-public-lecture-2018-professor-g-n-devy-memory-language-and-aphasia-the-future-of-human-speech/. The current Hindutva-inspired regime at the centre of Indian politics, combined with the fascination of Sanskrit within the global yoga episteme, urges us to consider the ethical implications related to the continued vitality and relevance of less prestigious languages within India; which are compromised by the preference for the perceived 'morally superior' political theology related to the devabhāṣā amongst Hindu supremacists, Hindus in general, and global yoga fundamentalists. In short, the global popularity of yoga implicates its consumers in the ongoing push towards language death for minority languages in India. Also, many people believe that a 'pure' Sanskrit is necessary to achieve a utopian Rāmrājya; or, as this term has evolved beyond Gandhi's original sentiment to mean a Hindu rāṣṭhra, or an ethno-nationalist theocracy; however, the logic of this sentiment insists on a 'pure' language being spoken. Yet, even though this idea is deeply problematic for a sociolinguist, and knowing full well that even Ṛgvedic Sanskrit has a couple of hundred loan words from other languages, combined with the imperfect learning of the target language and the interference from the substrate language, the internal logic of this project collapses in on itself.
In preparation for my presentation on Tuesday morning, below are some of my articles and films regarding the topic of Sanskrit Revival in India. I don't expect people to have read or watched them all. Please, at your leisure, explore them.
0) Spoken Sanskrit in a Gujarat Ashram (academic and long) https://www.academia.edu/…/Spoken_Sanskrit_in_a_Gujarat_Ash…
1) Sanitizing Power of Spoken Sanskrit (not academic and short)https://www.academia.edu/…/The_sanitising_power_of_spoken_S…
2) Imagining Sanskrit Land (not academic and short)
3) Reflections on the Imagining Sanskrit Land Project (not academic and short)
4) Jhiri: A Sanskrit-speaking Village in Madhya Pradesh (academic and long)
5) Speaking of the Little Traditions: Agency and Imposition in the 'Sanskrit-speaking' Villages in North India (academic and long)
6) Episode 1 (of 5): Imagining Sanskrit Land (10 mins)
7) The Political Theology of Global Yoga Fundamentalism - Part 1 (not academic and short)
8) The Political Theology of Global Yoga Fundamentalism - Part 2 (not academic and short)
Look forward to seeing you on Tuesday or, if you cannot attend, via the YiJ FB page https://www.facebook.com/yogascapesinjapan/ or Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/yogascapesinjapan/?hl=en
Here is the link to the next conference we are organising. Click HERE to find out more about the themes, dates, locations, etc.
Am so grateful and humbled by the efforts of everyone to come all the way to Kyoto for the Yogascapes' Conference. Here are the different groups that presented over the two days. Some people were presenting at a conference for the first time, and held their own alongside seasoned professors. Every talk provided a variety of fascinating insights and departure points for further stimulating contemplation and conversation about yoga, today, in all its different guises and manifestations. Stay tuned, for the release of the videos, more photos, and hopefully an edited volume of the presentations, either as an edited book or special edition of a journal. See you at Yogascapes 2.0 in 2019!
Came across a yoga homonym in this article, which turned out to be about western art in Japan. Apparently, in Japanese, yō 洋 means 'Western' as opposed to wa 和, which means 'Japanese'. Yōga is a Western style painting movement in modern Japan and Nihonga is the Japanese equivalent. Thanks Justin B. Stein
1. artist who produces Western-style paintings
2. Yōga (art)Yōga or literally "Western-style paintings" is a term used to describe paintings by Japanese artists that have been made in accordance with Western (European) traditional conventions, techniques and materials. The term was coined in the Meiji period, to distinguish such works from indigenous traditional Japanese paintings, or Nihonga .
Read “Yōga (art)” on English Wikipedia
Read “洋画家” on Japanese Wikipedia
Read “Yōga (art)” on DBpedia
We got some YiJ pens made. Well, Aimée-Linh McCartney made it all happen. I just happened to be at home, sick with bronchitis, to receive them. If you want some pens, they will be up for sale on the yogascapes website, soon. They are made with bamboo and come with black ink. They are ball point pens. I don't like felt tips. Not sure about the rest of you. But, they are well made.
Giving a talk today at Nanzan Uni's Anthropology Insitute - it's the first talk I'm really giving about the project. At the 1/2 way point of the project, it seems like a good time to say something. Hopefully, you can tune in via the yogascapes FB page. I don't have @tattooedyogini_ here today to run the social media stuff. :-( Japan standard time is GMT+9
15:40～16:40 Patrick McCartney氏 「Nihon no Yogasukepu: An Update on Global Yoga in Japan（日本のヨガスケープ）」
16:40～17:40 ムンシ ロジェ ヴァンジラ氏 隠れキリシタン関連
While I was travelling from Kyoto, I noticed a couple of posters and yoga businesses. A 24hr gym that has 'hotto yoga' and, what I gather to be a pyramid scheme cult, 'brain yoga'. Yoga seems to have reached a very quotidian space in the public imagination. There are many yog studios and posters are found on train platforms, as well as the tunnels connecting lines.