23 Oct 2023 17:30 - 19:00 Online & Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge


An event by the Contemplation: theory / practice research network.


Theo Wildcroft (SOAS)


Dr Theo Wildcroft

My doctoral research and accompanying monograph centred around the practices of interpersonal authority and intrapersonal meaning-making involved in contemporary communities of yoga teachers and practitioners. I emerged from that research with a number of outstanding and elusive questions, more suited to the discipline of philosophy than anthropology. At the heart of most contemplative, body-based practices is a productive tension between receptivity and action, emergence and enactment. Contemplative practices are a practice of meaning-making: a search not just for a certain quality of experience, but for the experience of transcendent semiogenesis. We sit, we move, we breathe, not just with purpose, but with a point. We become, with every breath.

The ultimate authority of this practice is not an external guide, but a perfected avatar of the inner self of the practitioner. The goal of practice is also an incremental evolution towards that perfected self. Yet such a self is logically beyond the direct comprehension of the practitioner at the point of practice. So how do we become? How do we name ourselves before we can know ourselves as the result of practice? In this session, I will draw on my own research, and the fields of dance, movement and meditation studies, to speak to a number of possibly insoluble but productive questions, asking what is at stake, what is recovered, and what is elided by the emerging narrative of the performed, perfected self in contemplative practice? My hope is that this is the perfect forum to start considering the answers. Join me for contemplation, discussion, and, if the stars align, even a little semiogenesis.

All welcome. Sessions are followed by dinner and drinks. Kindly note the dinner expenses are not covered by the organisers. Please email Hannah to reserve a space for dinner.

For enquiries please contact the Research Networks Programme Manager.

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