Accepted paper:

Among imagined and experienced stability: ethnography of Ayurveda self-care practice


Alžběta Wolfová (Charles University in Prague, Faculty of humaninites)

Paper short abstract:

Ayurveda, a specific knowledge about human well-being, is translated into a different understanding of oneself and one's own life. Building upon an ethnographic research of Ayurveda self-care practice, I discuss how the imagined individual stability is contested through embodied and social practice.

Paper long abstract:

In my paper, I discuss how the specific knowledge about human well-being is translated into strategies of enriching individual stability. I introduce this process as an entanglement of imaginative, embodied and social practice. Furthermore, I emphasise the good and the bad passages of this process (Moser, Law 1999). Building upon 4-years long ethnographic research of Ayurveda (one of the T&CM modalities) in the Czech Republic I look at ways of translating specific knowledge into individual strategies of stabilization. As the core field-site consisted of two schools of Ayurveda, I have followed the ways in which the students have accommodated the new ideas about the functioning of the world, society, individual mind, body and health into their understanding and everyday practice. Even though a huge amount of them have not observed any essential changes in their health since (cp. Baarts, Pedersen 2009) they still claim to benefit from Ayurveda in a form of establishing better individual stability. In my paper, I explore this process of enriching individual stability through the translation of specific knowledge into imaginative, embodied and social practice. More importantly, I discuss the incoherencies of this process, the difficulties, and misunderstandings these people are encountering within.

panel Cog02
Creative environments, social minds