My Book Projects:
Weaponizing Yoga and Yoga as Liberation Theology
Building on the research of predecessors and scholars in the same field, I am currently working on two research and book projects within the field of critical yoga studies.
Weaponizing Yoga for Ethnonationalism
The first project "Weaponizing Yoga for Ethnonationalism: Spectacles of Compassion in India, Israel, and the US" explores how corporate entities, governments, and military and law enforcement programs in India, Israel (occupied Palestine) and the U.S. appropriate Asian spiritual traditions to advance agendas of cultural and political supremacy. The trilateral alliance between the U.S., Israel, and India is one that can be scrutinized from many angles: this research study examines the common cause these global powers share through their weaponization of yoga to perpetuate systemic oppression and inequality.
For each nation, I consider the growing popularity of yoga amongst the mainstream; as well as the advocacy from civil society and non-profit organizations to develop and incorporate yogic programs for soldiers serving in the armed forces. In addition to exploring the motives of these programs, I consider how mainstream media, academics, state leaders, and politicians frame the deployment of yoga in militarized settings.
Broadly, I inquire how each country’s dominant culture brands yoga in unique ways to perpetuate narratives of ethnonationalism. For example, I consider how the depiction of yoga as a “peaceful” tool that can be employed to help those in combat cultivate “inner strength,” and “calmness” further contributes to the legitimization of state-sanctioned violence against the marginalized “other” and the dangerous practice of “spiritual bypassing.”
The images attached represent what I consider to be the weaponization of yoga. What do you feel and notice when you observe the images, and read these prompts? While my concern revolves around unveiling how yoga is being weaponized in these examples, my hope lies in us coming to terms with the diasporic, nationalist fantasies of yoga’s past and repurposing this practice toward an embodied and collectively liberating future.
Yoga as Liberation Theology
My second research project, Yoga as Liberation Theology, examines the past and present iterations of how social change activists and leaders have used yoga and related spiritual traditions to fortify movements and stretch humanity toward an ethics of spiritual salvation, collective liberation, and prison abolition.