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The Mindful Cranks

The Mindful Cranks broadly explores the cultural translation of Buddhism in the West, various facets of Buddhist modernism, and the mainstreaming of mindfulness in secular contexts. The podcast serves as a forum for voices that go beyond the dominant narratives which have been thus far uncritical of consumerism, medicalization, psychologization, corporatization and self-help approaches. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines — the humanities, philosophy, cultural studies, education, critical pyschology, religious studies, and sociology—The Mindful Cranks welcomes new conversations that challenge the priviledging of scientific materialism, methodological individualism, reductionism, and neoliberalism. Our guests are leading edge scholars, authors, teachers, practitioners and activists that share a mutual interest in civic mindfulness and socially engaged contemplative methods. A wide range of diverse perspectives–including critical theory, critical pedagogy, ethnography, Foucauldian governmentality, feminism, hermeneutics, critical race theory, critical management studies, socially engaged Buddhism, political economy–provide the “cranky” intellectual tools for socially engaged contemplative change.
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Now displaying: 2016
Apr 12, 2016

Will Davies, Ph.D., is a sociologist and political economist and a Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London and also Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Centre.

Dr. Davies is author of two books, The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition (Sage, 2014) and The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing (Verso, 2015).

His blog posts have previously featured in The New York Times, BBC Online, The Daily Beast and elsewhere.

In this interview, we explore wide-ranging questions as to why corporations have suddenly become interested in measuring and quantifying the well-being and happiness of their employees. Will Davies explains the phenomena of psychological collapse, and how neoliberalism has given rise to the psychosomatic worker. Likewise, we probe the links between the neoliberal ideology driving the quest for employee well-being and social harmony, manifesting recently in corporate mindfulness programs. From Frederick Taylor to Elton Mayo to Hans Seyle, Will Davies articulates the common philosophical thread of utilitarianism underlying these various schemes, which all have relied on messianic messages and charismatic authority characteristic of management gurus. We explore the explosion of surveillance technologies, wearable monitoring gadgets, and data analytics--which are increasingly employed in the service of "well-being optimization." Finally, we discuss the purpose and value social critique in a world fraught with economic inequalities, social suffering and concentration of global elite power.

Apr 2, 2016

C. W. Huntington, Jr. translates and interprets Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist texts. He is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Hartwick College and author of Maya: A novel, and The Emptiness of Emptiness: An Introduction to Early Indian Madhyamaka, as well as a number of scholarly articles on Buddhist doctrine and practice. Huntington is particularly interested in exploring new avenues for the translation of ideas and practices of Asian Buddhism into a modern Western idiom.

In this episode, we explore his recent article, "The Triumph of Narcissism: Theravada Buddhist Meditation in the Marketplace," which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, September 2015.

Sandy Huntington

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