Exploring Engaged Spirituality through Martial Arts
Pedagogies of Engagement in Boxe Popolare and Odaka Yoga
Keywords:engaged spirituality, hybrid field, martial activities, pedagogies of engagement, Boxe Popolare, Odaka Yoga
In this article, through a carnal and participant approach to ethnography, we consider the pedagogical repertoires of Boxe Popolare (a style of boxing codified by Italian leftist grassroots groups) and Odaka Yoga (an innovative type of postural yoga blended with martial arts elements). We provide a close reading of what we call the pedagogies of engagement cultivated by these two practices, appreciating how their underlying spiritual philosophies are internalized in self-reflective projects oriented towards societal transformation. Our analysis draws from Pierrre Bourdieu’s dispositional sociology and the concept of “body pedagogics”. With regards to this framework, we explore the physical-spiritual apprenticeship to Boxe Popolare and Odaka Yoga in relation to the rise of a series of engaged dispositions, which bring practitioners to conceive of their own transformation as a way to encourage social change and support social justice programmes. More specifically, we emphasize the ritual dimensions of these practices, their forms of commitment, and finally their ambivalences regarding contemporary neoliberal governmentality and societal transformation. We conclude by reflecting on how the neoliberal character of contemporary martial activities, too often simply assumed, is socially reproduced—in practice— via specific processes of knowledge transmission; and calling for more attention to the overlaps between different social fields.
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