Yoga as Politics: An Alternative History, Nov. 23, 2017, Location/Time TBA

Christian Novotzke and Sunila Kale

Bios: Sunila S. Kale is Associate Professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, where her teaching and research focus on Indian politics, political economy of development, energy studies, and yoga as a political idea. Her first book, Electrifying India, was published by Stanford University Press in 2014.

Christian Lee Novetzke is Professor of South Asia Studies, Religious Studies, and International Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.  His most recent book is The Quotidian Revolution (Columbia University Press, 2016)

Abstract: From the earliest ideas of yoga in the Rg Veda about 3500 years ago to the creation of International Yoga Day in 2015, the practice of yoga has involved not only spiritual and physical pursuits, but also the more mundane world of politics. In our talk, we explore an alternative story of yoga that sees how and when it has been a tool for negotiating politics, in particular the relationship between the self and society.  Our story moves through four key moments: yoga’s origins in the Vedic period (c. 1500 BCE), its articulation in the Bhagavad Gita (c. 100 BCE), the revival of yoga as politics in the nationalist period (c. 1900s), and its newest uses in contemporary India. Does yoga offer a political idea within this long history? Our talk will explore this question.