Prof. Joseph S. Alter

22_josephalterJoseph Alter received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989. He is a sociocultural anthropologist whose area of interest is South Asia. His research is in the field of medical anthropology on topics of physical fitness, public health, social psychology, and the relationship between health, culture, and politics broadly defined. He has recently conducted work on the symbolic meaning of the body in the practice of Indian wrestling; the relationship between sexuality, male celibacy, and nationalism in post-colonial India; and the development of scientific yoga therapy as a modern, middle-class form of public health in urban India.


Books and Edited Volumes:

Moral Materialism: Sex and Masculinity in Modern India. Penguin: New Delhi, 2011.

Asian Medicine and Globalization. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

Yoga in Modern India: The Body Between Philosophy and Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Gandhi’s Body: Sex, Diet and the Politics of Nationalism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2000.

Selected and Recent Publications:

‘Yoga in Asia – Mimetic History: Problems in the Location of Secret Knowledge.’ Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 2009. 29(2):213-229.

“Yoga Sivir: Performativity and the Study of Modern Yoga.” Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary, Transnational Perspectives. 2008. Mark Singleton, ed. London: Routledge.

“Ayurveda and Sexuality: Sex, Sex Therapy, and the ‘Paradox of Virility’” In Modern and Global Ayurveda: Pluralism and Paradigms. 2008. Pp. 177-201. Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick Smith, editors. Albany: SUNY Press.

“Yoga and Physical Education: Swami Kuvalayananda’s Nationalist Project.” Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 2007 3: 20 – 36.×207191

“Physical Education, Sport and the Intersection and Articulation of ‘Modernities’: Hanuman Vyayam Prasarak Mandal.” The International Journal of the History of Sport 2007 24(9): 1155-1170.

“Yoga and Fetishism: Reflections on Marxist Social Theory.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 2007 12: 763-783.

“Yoga at the Fin de Siècle: Muscular Christianity with a “Hindu” Twist.” International Journal of the History of Sport, 2006 23(5): 759-776.

“Indian Clubs and Colonialism: Hindu Masculinity and Muscular Christianity” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2004 46 (3): 497-534.

“Body, Text, Nation: Writing the Fit Body in Post Colonial India” in Satadru Sen, editor. Confronting the Body: Essays on Physicality in Colonial and Postcolonial India, pp. 16-38. London and New York: Anthem. 2004.