[Reader-list] Author(iz)ing Yoga: Discussion this Friday, 17th August

Mayur mayur.suresh at gmail.com
Tue Aug 14 17:05:11 IST 2007

 Please join us this Friday, 17th August, 2007, for a discussion led by
Allison Fish in Intellectual Property and Yoga. The discussion will begin at
5:30 pm at the (Old) ALF office, at 122/4 Infantry Road, Opposite Infantry
Wedding House. A brief abstract of the presentation is given below.

Hope to see you all this friday


* Author(iz)ing Yoga*

Issues surrounding the protection and exploitation of traditional knowledge
through intellectual property rights (IPR) are increasingly debated and the
legal frameworks developing in response will have wide ranging impacts. One
such strategy, a project initiated and funded by the Indian central
government, is the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). The
discussion this Friday at ALF will explore the unfolding of the TKDL with a
focus on the section of the library that intends to document yogic knowledge
and practices.

The talk will begin with an overview of how the practice of yoga has become
a highly profitable global commercial industry and how this phenomenon
provides a space for the innovative application and experimentation with
traditional IP management tools by different parties. As part of this
discussion I am interested in those experiments that are successful and
produce valid IP claims. However, I want to be clear here that I am also, if
not primarily, interested in the novel and untested proprietary claims that
have a good possibility of failure or the potential to produce unanticipated
effects. In analyzing these unintended effects, unanticipated consequences,
and failures I look to the work of Hugh Raffles (2002), Anna Tsing (2004),
Kim Fortun (2003), Rosemary Coombe (1998), Julia Elyachar (2005), Bill
Maurer (2005), Adriana Petryna (2002), and Cori Hayden (2003).

The talk will begin by introducing the concept of commercial yoga and
explore how it;

   1. Has arisen from modern and transnational variants of the practice
   beginning in the mid-20th century,
   2. Has emerged in the legal and ethical framework of global
   3. Has developed into a valuable, competitive market commodity where
   rival actors secure financial interests through novel application of
   traditional IP claims, and
   4. These events have caused the Indian state to respond, through the
   inclusion of yoga into the TKDL, to what it claims is the continued piracy
   of its national-cultural heritage,

In charting this flow, the talk will address how yoga, as a controversial
entity, has provided the impetus for different actors to develop tools to
convert this distinctive type of information-knowledge into a manageable and
proprietary object. Moreover, on a broad theoretical level, the discussion
will address how taking commercial yoga seriously contributes to new
directions in both socio-legal and anthropological knowledge making

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