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Using participant observation and qualitative interviews in the Yoga scene the study presented in this interview investigates the characteristics of cosmopolitan spirituality. Findings from behavioral economics on altruism and religious giving are used to shed light on Yoga charity events. They exhibit an innovative mixture of generosity and liberal elements, such as competition, ANNE KOCH explains. Thus the observations challenge the traditional concepts of religion and spirituality, and indicate a key-transformation of cosmopolitan spirituality towards an outward social activism.


Anne Koch is Professor for Religious Studies at the Paris Lodron University Salzburg (Austria). She has held positions of Intermediate Professor at the universities of Berlin (Free University), Basel (Switzerland) and Munich.

Koch’s reserach focuses on contemporary institutional, networked and informal religion in European and global history of religion. A further interest is the economics of (global) yoga, which led her to do a two-year field research in Japan, examining cosmoploitical spirituality. She participated in the LMU Mentoring for highly qualified female researchers and received the Gender Equality Grant from the University of Munich twice.


University of Salzburg (Universität Salzburg)

"The Paris Lodron University of Salzburg (PLUS), with over 18,000 students and 2,800 employees in research, teaching and administration is the largest educational institution in both the city and province of Salzburg. As an integral part of the cultural and economic life of Salzburg, it is a meeting place between teachers and students, scientists and the public. The name of our university reflects its founding by Prince Archbishop Paris Lodron in 1622. Since the re-establishment of the University of Salzburg in 1962, it has developed into a modern and lively university that meets the highest requirements with its four faculties in teachingand research." ( Source )
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Original publication

Competitive Charity: A Neoliberal Culture of ‘Giving Back’ in Global Yoga

Koch Anne
Journal of Contemporary Religion
Published in 2015

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