Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Loriliai Biernacki

Second Advisor

Deepti Misri

Third Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Abstract

This thesis works to identify the ways in which experiences are mediated through established, culturally-intelligible discourses of “authenticity,” by discussing how the blog Decolonizing Yoga (DCY) creates new models for “authentic” yoga subjectivity informed by feminist ethical principles. By identifying and analyzing articulations of embodied experiences on the DCY blog, as they appear in ways that reference broader “authenticity discourses,” this study highlights how feelings and emotional affect influence the shape and meaning of the “authentic” in modern yoga, and discusses the implications for progressive renderings of “authenticity” within modern yoga culture and for its future study. This thesis develops the concept of “affective-imaginaries” to show how established histories and visual representations affect how modern yoga practitioners understand themselves and their experiences practicing yoga. Through a close reading of the DCY blog, this thesis comes to the conclusion that DCY does not merely contest dominant affective-imaginative associations but is also productive of new ones; towards which yoga practitioners can orient themselves and through which they can identify.

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