Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets
Medicine and Martial Arts in South India
Oxford University Press 2015
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Hindu StudiesNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books in SportsNew Books Network October 28, 2016 Ian Cook
Roman Sieler’s Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets: Medicine and Martial Arts in South India (Oxford University Press, 2015) is a fine-grained ethnographic study of varmakkalai–the art of vital spots, a South Indian practice that encompasses both martial and medical activities. The interview explores how varmakkalai relates to the wider field of manual therapies and martial traditions in the subcontinent, the theories that inform the practice, the relationship between healing and fighting, as well as the role of secrets. A truly fascinating study that raises questions about topics such as categorisation, concealment and learning that go way beyond the confines of South India, Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets will be of interest to many.