Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium is a central event of the exhibit of yoga-related art at the Freer-Sackler Gallery.  It will take place November 21-23 in the Meyer Auditorium at the Gallery. You must register beforehand.

On Thursday evening , the keynote lecture by Professor B.N. Goswamy is titled “Inward Journeys; Yoga and Pilgrimage.” He will be introduced by Professor Vidya Dehejia.

On Friday, the morning sessions  will cover the topics of “Yoga and Place,” and “The Buddha and Yoga.” The afternoon sessions will cover “Tantra” and “Asanas and Naths.” On Saturday, the morning session will be on “Yoga and Print Culture” and the afternooon session on “Modern Yoga”  You can see the biographies of the 17 lecturers and abstracts of the lectures  if you want more details.  The intention of the symposium is:

 Explore yoga’s histories, meanings, transformations, and practices through the lens of visual culture at this public symposium. Twenty years ago, yoga was largely understood as a monolithic and unchanging tradition. While today we have a far richer understanding of yoga’s historical transformations and trans-sectarian manifestations, visual culture—ranging from sectarian, court, and popular imagery to architecture and photography—remains its least-explored archival resource.

There is a strong academic tilt to these panels. The speakers are not going to be talking about the latest trends in ashrams retreats and yoga teacher accreditation. In fact, there’s no guarantee that all of them even practice yoga. This symposium is a deep dive into how intimately and intricately  intertwined yoga and Indian culture have been over the centuries.

The biggest names are Mark Singleton, author of the influential Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice; David Gordon White, author of several scholarly books on yoga history,  and James Millinson,  a scholar and translator of Sanskrit texts.

I’ve signed up for all three days, though I may not be able to set aside that much time.

Future events