Yoga, Sexual Violation, and Discourse

Key information

7:00 PM to 9:15 PM
Virtual Event

About this event

Shameem Black, Amelia Wood

You can watch a recording of this event on YouTube .


What can we learn from cultural practices that are simultaneously narrated as the cause and cure for sexual violation? In recent years, yoga has come to exemplify one such practice. The world of yoga has been roiled by accusations of violation, yet yoga has also gained prominence as a therapeutic tool and even as a policy recommendation to reduce assault. In the first half of this event, Shameem Black will introduce her brilliant article ‘Yoga, Sexual Violation, and Discourse’, published in Australian Feminist Studies in 2020. She will analyse competing rhetoric from India and the United States to shed light on how patriarchal and capitalist discourses can gain new vitality in the name of contesting violations they enable.In response, Amelia Wood will be drawing on her own, eagerly awaited research findings from her forthcoming PhD thesis. Amelia Wood is researching the intersection between Spiritual Abuse and modern transnational yoga movements. This research includes the analysis of discourse(s) regarding reportage, documentation and responses to instances and allegations of abuse within the media, legal and official documents, and academia. Case studies include the lawsuits brought against Bikram Chodury in the US (2013 onwards), and testimonies recorded by the 2012 Australian Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse regarding abuse in the Satyananda Yoga organization. This study will demonstrate how the experiences of SA victims and survivors within modern yoga communities have been marginalised. The work is informed by the notion of hermeneutical injustice and testimonial silencing as developed by feminist philosophers Miranda Fricker and Kristie Dotson. In addressing the mechanisms that have enabled silencing the aim and hope is to amplify the voices of those who have been harmed and redress the imbalance.

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Speaker Biography

Dr. Shameem Black is a researcher and teacher in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University, where her work focuses on the literary, gender, and cultural politics of India and its diaspora. Her current project, tentatively titled Flexible India, takes yoga as a lens to understand changes and tensions in globalising ideas of India. She is the author of Fiction Across Borders: Imagining the Lives of Others in Late Twentieth-Century Novels (2010) and has published on yoga in such journals as Contemporary South Asia, Australian Feminist Studies, and Race and Yoga.

Amelia Wood is a PhD student at SOAS, University of London, researching the intersection between Spiritual Abuse and modern transnational yoga movements. She completed her MA and SOAS in 2015. Her dissertation focused on the roles and representations of women in pre-modern yoga practice.