Published: Feb. 25, 2022 By

The American Music Research Center (AMRC) at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Music is hosting a lecture, “Yoga as White Public Space,” by ethnomusicologist Dr. Rumya Putcha (University of Georgia) on Wednesday, 2 March 2022 at 5:00 p.m. (details below).

Yoga is a mainstay of the global exercise market, with classes offered in gyms, schools, private studios, and even at cultural institutions including museums. In this public lecture, Dr. Putcha examines the ways the commercial yoga industry actively (re)produces the structures of power and affect that characterize much of US cultural and political life.

From her time as a teen working at the YMCA, Dr. Putcha witnessed the growth of yoga’s popularity and prevalence in the wellness and fitness communities. Her training in dance sensitized Dr. Putcha to the appropriation of traditional Indian and South Asian gestures and poses in the iconography of promotional materials. Moreover, she has devoted the last decade to ethnographic fieldwork, digital ethnography, and "hashtag ethnography" with yoga practitioners around the country, which has revealed the ways that yoga has been used to support racialized, gendered, and classed forms of domination through somatic orientalism, that is, “a kind of Orientalism that extends far beyond literary representations, and includes sensory (smell, taste, etc.) attachments.”Rumya Putcha

Dr. Putcha’s work on somatic orientalism also includes sound. For Putcha, music is inseparable from other social and cultural practices, and she feels that music scholars have an obligation to think beyond the music itself, its genesis, and its reception.  Using a generative analytical frame, Putcha reveals that music’s meanings are created through performance and in public spaces, including yoga studios and online venues where consumers access yoga.

An advocate of the movement to decolonize scholarly work through accessibility, Dr. Putcha’s work appears not only in peer-review journals but also in public scholarship venues. She uses her blog, Namaste Nation, to reach a wider readership, to think through new ideas, and to network with people around the globe.

Dr. Putcha holds a joint position in the Hugh Hodsgon School of Music and the Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia. Intersectional feminist theory and interdisciplinarity are hallmarks of her work, including her forthcoming book, The Dancer’s Voice: Performance and Womanhood in Transnational India (Duke University Press).

“Yoga as White Public Space” will take place on Wednesday, 2 March 2022, at 5:00 p.m. in the University of Colorado Boulder's Imig Music Building, room S102, and is free and open to the public. For those unable to attend in person, the talk will also be broadcast over Zoom. Registration for Zoom attendees can be found here.