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TantraSex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion$
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Hugh Urban

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520230620

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520230620.001.0001

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Reimagining Tantra in Contemporary Discourse

(p.264) Conclusion

Hugh B. Urban

University of California Press

The imagining of Tantra seems to be something more complicated, much more messy, and yet also more interesting than the simple history of an indigenous Indian category or the simple imposition of a Western category onto the passive surface of the exotic Orient. By no means a predictable Saidian narrative of Orientalism, this genealogy of Tantra offers a real challenge to much of the contemporary scholarship in post-colonial and subaltern studies. Tantra lies at the nexus of a series of conflicting extremes—the archaic past and the modern age of darkness; sexual liberation and sexual depravity; political freedom and political violence—each of which is seized upon in different historical moments. Perhaps most importantly, we have found that the image of Tantra has progressively shifted from a tradition associated with secrecy, danger, and occult power to one associated primarily with sexual liberation and physical pleasure. This concluding chapter offers some constructive comments as to how we might begin to reimagine the category of Tantra in contemporary discourse.

Keywords:   Tantra, Orientalism, sexual depravity, political freedom, political violence, secrecy, sexual liberation, physical pleasure

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