Modern Yoga Research as a Discursive Formation


  • Matteo Di Placido University of Turin



modern yoga, modern yoga research, archaeology, social and human sciences, culture and religion


The practice of yoga is on the rise, as much as its academic scrutiny. Scholars, especially within the disciplinary boundaries of religious studies, South Asian studies, Indology, anthropology, and sociology, have recently started to critically inquire into the birth and transnational developments of modern forms of yoga, tracing their genealogies and textual roots. This expanding literature has in turn contributed to the constitution of the emergent and multidisciplinary field of modern yoga research, or yoga studies. The primary aim of this article is thus to analyze the field of modern yoga research as a ‘discursive formation’ (Foucault [1971]1972), that is, an ensemble of texts constituting – or contributing to the constitution of – a specific object of analysis, namely modern yoga. In so doing, it also aims to contribute to the advancement of the discursive study of religion more in general. The article relies on a ‘discursive study of religion’ approach (e.g., von Stockrad 2003, 2010, 2013) with a focus on its archaeological leaning (e.g., Foucault 1965, 1972, [1963] 1973, [1966] 2002). More specifically, I underline the affinity that modern yoga research’s discursive references have with a number of discursive currents that characterize the disciplines it emerged from, such as radical historicism, cultural relativism, modernism, Orientalism and neo-colonialism. Finally, I conclude by summarizing the main results of this contribution and exploring their relevance to the self-reflexive development of the overlapping fields of cultural analyses and the study of religion.


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How to Cite

Di Placido, M. (2022). Modern Yoga Research as a Discursive Formation. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 50(2), 60–72.



The Essay