Images of the Body in India
South Asian and European Perspectives on Rituals and Performativity
Edited by Axel Michaels, Christoph Wulf
Routledge India – 2010 – 298 pages
This intriguing book engages with the concept of the body in its cultural context by acknowledging and demonstrating that the human body is understood differently in Western and Indian cultures. The contributors go on to show that any attempt to put forward a single concept of the body within Indian culture would be misleading.
Divided into three parts, the book examines the considerable and often conflicting variations in body images and body concepts. In Part One the contributors focus on the representation of the body in religious and philosophical texts; representations that emerged from reading, translating and interpreting classical writings from diverse historical and anthropological approaches. Through predominantly ethnographic studies, Part Two explores the role of the body in narratives and ritual performance, from dance to ritualistic ceremonies. Visualisation processes of the body are examined in Part Three, focusing on developments in modern and contemporary periods: from visual practices at the Mughal court, to the multiple bodies of the bride, and the influence of new media.
This volume is a fascinating collection of articles for those in the fields of sociology and anthropology, history, religion, cultural studies and South Asian studies.
Axel Michaels is Professor of Classical Indology at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg.
Christoph Wulf is Professor of Anthropology and Philosophy of Education, Freie Universität Berlin.