University of Pittsburgh
April 26, 2006

Pitt Anthropology Professor Joseph S. Alter Receives International Book Award for Yoga in Modern India

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Joseph S. Alter, a professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences, has received the 2006 Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize from the South Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) for his book, Yoga in Modern India: The Body Between Science and Philosophy (Princeton University Press, 2004).

A sociocultural anthropologist whose area of interest is South Asia, Alter earned the Ph.D. degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989. He has conducted research on the symbolic meaning of the body in the practice of Indian wrestling; the relationship between sexuality, male celibacy, and nationalism in postcolonial India; and the development of scientific yoga therapy as a modern, middle-class form of public health in urban India.

Yoga in Modern India is considered to be the first cohesive, serious ethnographic history of modern yoga in India, written not only for students and scholars, but also for practitioners who seek a deeper understanding of how yoga developed into the exceedingly popular phenomenon it is today. Alter is the author of several other books, including The Wrestler's Body: Identity and Ideology in North India (University of California Press, 1992) and Knowing Dil Das: Stories of a Himalayan Hunter (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999).

Founded in 1941, the AAS is a scholarly, nonprofit organization devoted to the facilitation of educational opportunities for anyone interested in Asia through publications, meetings, and seminars. The Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize is one of numerous honors awarded annually. For more information on AAS, visit