New RSO student authored article on Ayurveda and commodification in Europe

Former RSO thesis student Marine Viale has had an article based on her thesis published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. The article’s title is Conserving traditional wisdom in a commodified landscape: Unpacking brand Ayurveda, and is co-authored with Mark Vicol from RSO. Fantastic to see a very good thesis leading to a peer-reviewed publication. You can read the full article here and the abstract is pasted below.


As Ayurveda continues to gain global recognition as a sanctioned system of health care, the essence of Ayurveda’s identity has become prey to commoditization and commodification for commercial undertakings in the holistic health milieu of India, but also in emerging markets such as Europe. This paper critically assesses the commodification of Ayurveda as a cultural signifier within Europe that separates the indigenous artefact from its Vedic origins. Often presented as an elite commodity in Western settings, Ayurveda has become embedded as a cultural artifact within consumer society as the epitome of holistic care with an emphasis on its spiritual attributes, yet simultaneously isolating it from the customary elements that motivated its inception. The paper argues that Ayurveda’s discursive detachment from its ontological tenets facilitates its rearticulation as a malleable experience as it crosses national boundaries, and in this process fosters the misinterpretation of the ancient healing tradition. This process may provide Ayurvedic treatments and principles with increased visibility in Europe’s health sector. However, brands are exploiting this niche with push-marketing strategies to capitalize on the budding Ayurveda industry, turning traditional medicines into emblematic commodities. To advance this argument, we examine product diversions in the commodification of classical Ayurvedic medicines in the Netherlands and Germany, focusing on the over-the-counter (OTC) segment. We present an interpretive analysis of the processes that are (de)constructing traditional practices and principles as Ayurveda travels beyond India, and how this complicates issues of authenticity and expertise as herbal medicines diverge from the indications ratified in Ayurveda’s classical compendiums.