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This volume investigates contemporary bodily practices as a mode of transmitting and receiving South Asian religious and spiritual traditions. The collection’s essays explore processes of adoption and adaptation, and the ways in which somatic religious practices are transplanted into new contexts, acquiring new meanings and generating dynamics of their own. Using the concept of “embodied reception” as a heuristic, the contributions address the dialectic between inscribing knowledge on practitioners’ bodies and opening new avenues for meaning-making through bodily experiences.
The collection assembles a range of empirical cases: contemplative bodily techniques such as postural yoga, mindfulness, and meditation; ritual practices in modern advaitic satsang; South Indian martial art; tantric goddess veneration; contemporary Sāṃkhyayoga practices. The empirical studies span devotional communities, yoga institutions, New Age milieus, and secularized contexts, providing a rich tapestry of contemporary embodied reception in and outside South Asia. Assembling research on embodied forms of reception both in South Asia and in Western countries, the volume advocates for paying close attention to entangled histories of knowledge. Grounded in this empirical outlook, the volume also speaks to theoretical and methodological debates on travelling bodily practices. The contributions suggest theoretical and methodological frameworks ranging from aesthetics of religion to sociology of knowledge, from ethnographical to cognitive approaches.
Published: Oct 1, 2024