This course will examine how questions of food and consumption have impacted and interacted with issues of South Asian modernity, culture, gender, society and politics in complex ways . Within this framework, we shall connect how the politics of taste have come to be governed by historical processes of human generated environmental changes and colonialism wherein food operates as a site of paradox and conflict, resistance and alterity. Coming at food from various angles, we will ask questions such as how food is connected to national identity or ideas of the ethnic? How does it perform a bridge between the secular and religious? How is it connected to issues of sovereignty and resistance? How does it relate to issues of environment and loss of traditional knowledges? How does food contribute to systems of oppression in this context? How are foods symbolic markers of identity that arise from intersections of class, caste, gender etc.? Where is the boundary between authentic culinary heritage and invented traditions? Our approach will be as polysemic and wide-ranging as the topic of food itself, not just employing critical readings from anthropological, sociological, political economy works etc., we shall also explore how food gets represented in contemporary films, stories, cookbooks, media and visual arts from the region and South Asian diaspora. Classes will emphasize participatory discussion. It is crucial that students keep up with readings and be prepared to discuss them in class; regular attendance and participation in discussion will count strongly towards the final evaluation.
- Teacher: Shakuntala Ray