Laurah E. Klepinger, Ph.D.
Laurah Klepinger is a cultural anthropologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Utica University since 2016. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in Anthropology from Syracuse University, a Master of Arts in Dance (Performance and Culture), and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance (Choreography) from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures. She also completed a Bachelor of Dance Arts from the University of Michigan, with a minor in Religion.
Supported by a Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, Klepinger’s doctoral research was a study of workers in the South Indian branches of a transnational yoga institution whose mission is “to spread peace, health and joy through yoga.” With additional support from the American Institute of Indian Studies and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (Syracuse University), she conducted more than four years of ethnographic research and language study in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India and in North America to understand the life experiences and perspectives of both Indian and international volunteers as well as paid workers in the organization.
Klepinger’s book, Transnational Yoga at Work: Spiritual Tourism and its Blind Spots, will be published in August 2022. The book explores the processes through which global spiritual movement can focus on peace while condoning and perpetuating cycles of injustice and social inequality that are central to our global economy. Privileging the experiences and hardships of Indian wageworkers, the book presents the vision of peace held by practitioners of the SYVC as a partial one that obscures the seemingly peripheral others of its self-conception. Yet it also offers a sympathetic portrayal of international yoga practitioners and of the complex patterns of work and worship central to a global mission.
Current projects include new research on vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusal in the US and Canada, especially in the context of Covid-19. As a Faculty Fellow with Utica University’s Institute for the Study of Integrative Healthcare (2023-24), Klepinger will collaborate on a project with Utica faculty Dr. Patrice Hallock and Dr. Nicole Scienza, focused on “Children, Families, and Integrative Healthcare” in Central New York. She is also engaged in research with the Intermountain Covid-19 Impact Consortium, including an oral history project on student experiences of the return to campus in Fall 2020, called Covid Stories.
Klepinger’s teaching at Utica focuses on issues of inequality, cultural appropriation, religion, gender, and globalization.
- M.A., Ph. D. in Anthropology, Syracuse University
- MA and MFA in Dance, University of California, Los Angeles
- BA in Dance, University of Michigan
- Introduction to Anthropology (ANT 101)
- Cultures, Health, and Healing (ANT 415)
- Food and Culture (ANT 367)
- Introduction to Gender and Sexuality (ANT 257)
- Sociology and Anthropology Theory (ANT/SOC 405)
- Inside Globalization (ANT 397)
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