|Title:||(Dis)owning Bikram: Decolonizing vernacular and dewesternizing restructuring in the yoga wars|
|Citation:||Vats, A. (2016) (Dis)owning Bikram: Decolonizing vernacular and dewesternizing restructuring in the yoga wars. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The study forms a type of discourse analysis focussing on decolonial vernacular and the misuse of language in relation to intellectual property regimes and traditional knowledge. Whilst the study does not specify the dataset used, the author refers to sources from media, lay persons and non-IP lawyers.|
|Data Type:||Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
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|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:|
“Undertaking analysis in the area of critical yoga studies, this article identifies two strategies of anticolonial resistance to Bikram Choudhury’s copyrighting of a sequence of twenty-six yoga poses.First, it examines decolonial vernacular, which contests Western commodification of yoga through the use and misuse of terms and phrases, such as“yoga piracy”and“cultural patents,”derived from intellectual property rights, international human rights, and cultural property regimes. Second, it considers dewesternizing restructuring emerging from the creation of the TraditionalKnowledge Digital Library, a database of information on yogic practice and medicine, which uses non-Western classification systems to interrupt the legal and economic structures through which patents and copyrights are enunciated. Together, these anticolonial strategies force intellectual property rights regimes to integrate Otherness, making space for the recognition of Indian agency in knowledge production.”
Main Results of the Study
The study finds evidence of language use that dewesternises yoga in copyright. Firstly, the notion of ‘yoga piracy’ situates Indian yogi’s as authors with active agency, rather than copiers or practitioners under the traditional conceptions of traditional knowledge. This alters the dominant narrative of Asian copying by suggesting the existence of inventive authorship that supersedes the rights of others who would assert copyright in yogic knowledge. Elsewhere, assertions that yoga belongs in the ‘public domain’ due to its age reinforce a legally recognised prior historical claim to yoga (even if in principle it cannot be copyrighted in the first instance).
Further, in reference to the rejection of Choudhury’s application for copyright protection of yoga routines, the study finds that this is a challenge to the appropriation of traditional knowledge. By construing yoga as a ‘compilation of ideas’ the study likens this to a social or cultural construction, rather than a copyrightable commodity. In doing so, yoga is something other than a public property that can be improved upon by selection or arrangement. In sum, the court’s decision “recognises yogis as creators of facts and ideas with articulable histories, creating space for reimagining Indian subjects as agents producers of knowledge."
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study does not make any explicit policy recommendations.
Coverage of Study