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"Before mindfulness": decolonising meditative practices in Mexico

Ibinarriaga Soltero, Barbara 2021. "Before mindfulness": decolonising meditative practices in Mexico. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis challenges the assumption of a sole 'mindfulness' conceptualisation as articulated from the Anglo-American perspective; demonstrating that the approaches to mindfulness meditation, as well as the tensions and dilemmas that arise in the dissemination of ‘mindfulness’ in the Mexican context, are better understood from a decolonial perspective. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 42 meditation practitioners, teachers, and researchers as well as analysis of documents and archives, I uncover that the emergence of 'mindfulness' has been interwoven with the development of psy-disciplines and the spread of different Buddhist traditions in Mexico, overlapping with the growth of Anglo-American contemporary mindfulness. Interviewee's emic conceptualisations of 'mindfulness' illustrates the specific Mexican linguistic aspects associated with their meanings, revealing these are historically, socially, and culturally situated. Likewise, I describe the generational pattern observed, and the complex ties within which interviewees and the organisations they belong to are embedded. This transnational 'mindfulness' network mirrors the Mexican intercultural context, embodying a high emotionality and micropolitics among its different members. My fieldwork comprises multi-sited ethnography in six Mexican states where I conducted observations in various meditation retreats, ‘mindfulness’ conferences as well as courses delivered online. Through collating qualitative multi-modal data and presenting case studies to exemplify the tensions found during my fieldwork, I show how insightful understandings of a complex social phenomenon in the Mexican intercultural context can be gained employing a bricolage approach. The case studies illuminate significant differences in how ‘mindfulness’ is disseminated across rural versus urban settings, including tensions and dilemmas between the public and private sectors. I also document a hybridisation process where 'mindfulness' is blended with and facilitates the re-emergence of knowledge and practices linked to Indigenous peoples. The thesis poses important questions regarding the unintended neo-colonial and internal colonialism discourse practices accompanying the importation and translation of 'mindfulness' in Mexico.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 August 2021
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2023 13:15

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