A conversation with Farah Godrej (Political Science) on her new book: Freedom Inside? Yoga and Meditation in the Carceral State (Oxford University Press)

 

Moderated by Tanya Nieri (Sociology)

 

About the book:

Yoga and meditation programs no doubt offer crucial respite for those who are incarcerated, but what sort of political effects do they have? Do they reinforce the neoliberal logic of mass incarceration which emphasizes individual choices, or can they assist marginalized people in navigating systemic injustice? Drawing on collaborations with incarcerated practitioners, interviews with volunteers and formerly incarcerated practitioners, and her own fieldwork with organizations offering yoga/meditation classes inside prisons, Farah Godrej examines both the promises and pitfalls of yoga and meditation. Freedom Inside? reveals the ways in which incarcerated persons have used yogic practices to resist the dehumanizing effects of prisons, and to heighten their awareness of institutional racism and mass incarceration among poor people and people of color. Godrej argues that while these practices could unwittingly exacerbate systemic forms of inequity and injustice, they also serve as resources for challenging such injustice, whether internally (via the realm of belief) or externally (through action). A combination of ethnography and political theory, Freedom Inside? reimagines the concept of "resistance" in a way that considers people's interior lives as a crucial arena for liberation.

 

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  • brian sanchez
  • Amena Sadat

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