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Tightrope Walkers: An Ethnography of Yoga, Precariousness, and Privilege in California's Silicon Valley

dc.contributor.advisor Starn, Orin
dc.contributor.advisor Nelson, Diane M
dc.contributor.author Bar, Neta
dc.date.accessioned 2013-05-13T15:33:17Z
dc.date.available 2015-05-07T04:30:04Z
dc.date.issued 2013
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10161/7146
dc.description.abstract <p>This dissertation offers an account of precarious neoliberal subjectivity by examining the suffering of the privileged as it relates to the practice of Western yoga in California's Silicon Valley. Yoga culture underlines creating connections and community. But my research, based on twenty-seven month fieldwork in an epicenter of the global high-tech economy, reveals that yoga practitioners actually seek to experience and create "space." I suggest that yoga practitioners often cultivate an interiority aimed at giving themselves room from the judgment and expectations of others. </p><p>This dissertation portrays the complicated lives of people who are more privileged than most. In so doing, this study questions the separation between "real" and "privileged" suffering; and it explores the ethical and political implications of the problems of the well-off. I suggest that the destructive aspects of neoliberal capitalism and late modernity do not hurt only the marginalized traditionally studied by anthropologists, but also--albeit in very different ways--those who supposedly benefit from them. The social scenes of modern yoga are sites of ambivalently embodied neoliberal logic, where clusters of promises and recipes for an "art of living" are critical about aspects of capitalism while enjoying its comfort. Even though the yogic ethic and politics do not adhere to the anthropological ideals of political action, Western yoga is often an ethical practice that does not simply reproduce neoliberal logic, but also shifts it slightly from within. By creating disruption of subjectivity and gaining space from old and habitual ways of being, yoga sometimes opens up a new territory of change and reflection.</p>
dc.subject Cultural anthropology
dc.subject Women's studies
dc.subject Ethics
dc.subject Neoliberalism
dc.subject Precariousness
dc.subject Privilege
dc.subject Stress
dc.subject Yoga
dc.title Tightrope Walkers: An Ethnography of Yoga, Precariousness, and Privilege in California's Silicon Valley
dc.type Dissertation
dc.department Cultural Anthropology
duke.embargo.months 24


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