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Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food, and South Asia

Krishnendu Ray
Tulasi Srinivas
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt7zw4ct
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  • Book Info
    Curried Cultures
    Book Description:

    Although South Asian cookery and gastronomy has transformed contemporary urban foodscape all over the world, social scientists have paid scant attention to this phenomenon.Curried Cultures-a wide-ranging collection of essays-explores the relationship between globalization and South Asia through food, covering the cuisine of the colonial period to the contemporary era, investigating its material and symbolic meanings.Curried Cultureschallenges disciplinary boundaries in considering South Asian gastronomy by assuming a proximity to dishes and diets that is often missing when food is a lens to investigate other topics. The book's established scholarly contributors examine food to comment on a range of cultural activities as they argue that the practice of cooking and eating matter as an important way of knowing the world and acting on it.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95224-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. PART ONE OPENING THE ISSUES

    • ONE Introduction
      (pp. 3-28)
      Krishnendu Ray and Tulasi Srinivas

      SOUTH ASIA IS A NEW HUB of intersecting global networks nourished by proliferating material and symbolic transactions propelling bodies, things, and conceptions across national boundaries. In this book, traversing national boundaries is the contingent operational definition of globalization. That implies at least two things: globalization becomes more visible after national boundaries crystallize; and we witness a new kind of self-consciousness about the connections between various locales and between the local and the supralocal in this phase of globalization. Furthermore, the affiliation of food to the body makes comestibles intensely local, in spite of their long history of distant circulation. Thus...

    • TWO A Different History of the Present: THE MOVEMENT OF CROPS, CUISINES, AND GLOBALIZATION
      (pp. 29-46)
      Akhil Gupta

      GLOBALIZATION AS A PHENOMENON has captured the popular and scholarly imagination in the First World in the last two decades. Much of this discussion of globalization has turned on trade and economic issues, and on the very visible worldwide diffusion of media and popular culture. Thanks to a series of highly visible protests against the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, first in Seattle, and then successively in Prague, Washington DC, Genoa, and New York, globalization has become a contested term in popular discourse. Nowhere is this more evident than in recent controversies about the...

  4. PART TWO THE PRINCELY-COLONIAL ENCOUNTER AND THE NATIONALIST RESPONSE

    • THREE Cosmopolitan Kitchens: COOKING FOR PRINCELY ZENANAS IN LATE COLONIAL INDIA
      (pp. 49-72)
      Angma D. Jhala

      A STATE BANQUET AT THE PALACE of an Indian prince during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century would have presented a “hybrid mélange of Hindu, Mughal and English court customs” (Dwivedi 1999: 28). Highly spiced and scented Mughal delicacies, perfected at the kitchens in Awadh, would be presented alongside Anglo-Indian staples such as Mulligatawny soup or Christmas pudding. Just like dress or religion, food had become a signifier of cultural accommodation as well as divergence. While an aesthetic pleasure, it was also innately connected with the larger political and economic climate of the era. In this manner, local, regional,...

    • FOUR Nation on a Platter: THE CULTURE AND POLITICS OF FOOD AND CUISINE IN COLONIAL BENGAL
      (pp. 73-88)
      Jayanta Sengupta

      RECENT CRITICAL WORK on nationalism has tended to shift the emphasis from long, drawn-out anticolonial political struggles for emancipation from political subordination to the more complex and nuanced struggles or contestations over cultural or intellectual domains or sites. It has been argued that the political movement of nationalism often derives new strength from, or is supplemented by, antihegemonic or contestatory exercises in cultural forms like writing about and remembering historical events, literature, performing arts, or philosophical and scientific deliberations.¹ This chapter seeks to establish the cuisine and culinary art of a nation as one more site in which the hegemonic...

  5. PART THREE CITIES, MIDDLE CLASSES, AND PUBLIC CULTURES OF EATING

    • FIVE Udupi Hotels: ENTREPRENEURSHIP, REFORM, AND REVIVAL
      (pp. 91-109)
      Stig Toft Madsen and Geoffrey Gardella

      THIS CHAPTER EXAMINES the evolution of a traditional Brahmanical food practice in the modern world. Traveling in southern India, as Naipaul did, one sooner or later encounters Udupi restaurants and hotels, such as the Madras Woodlands.¹ We will pursue the historical and geographical origins and the economic developments of some of these hotels and restaurants, and tell the story of the circular movement that transforms Brahmanical orthopraxy into a wider force for secularism that, in turn, revives religious beliefs and practices. We will narrate the story of Udupi restaurants (confusingly - known as “Udupi hotels” in India) from the 1920s,...

    • SIX Dum Pukht: A PSEUDO-HISTORICAL CUISINE
      (pp. 110-125)
      Holly Shaffer

      ISHTIYAQUE, AMIN, AND I drive in a green car, snaking through the old city of Lucknow. Darkness is punctured by the purple shades of fluorescent light reflected off whitewashed walls. We are debriefing, while peering through the windows, searching for the tell-tale sign of open-air cooking: flame close to the ground. We have just completed an unsatisfying yet rather expensive meal at the Taj Hotel’s five-star Oudhiana, a grey, alcoved space with oriental touches like arches, patterned fabrics, and a hookah, that exults in Lucknow’s historical, now mythical, cuisine. Our main interest is indum pukht—the sealed pot cooking...

    • SEVEN “Teaching Modern India How to Eat”: “AUTHENTIC” FOODWAYS AND REGIMES OF EXCLUSION IN AFFLUENT MUMBAI
      (pp. 126-142)
      Susan Dewey

      FRENCH PHILOSOPHER JACQUES DERRIDA contends that his law of genre embodies “order’s principle: resemblance, analogy, identity and difference . . . order of reasons, sense of sense” (1980: 81). Positing that genres’ very existence engenders boundaries, limits and, by default, exclusion, Derrida draws our attention to the otherwise rather self-evident point that notions of authenticity rely directly upon their implied ability to distinguish what Rahul the restaurateur glosses above as “the subtleties of differences.” Foodways constitute a powerful means by which individuals demonstrate their membership in privileged groups, one which anthropologist Sidney Mintz contends intimately links “novelty with knowingness, with...

    • EIGHT “Going for an Indian”: SOUTH ASIAN RESTAURANTS AND THE LIMITS MULTICULTURALISM IN BRITAIN
      (pp. 143-174)
      Elizabeth Buettner

      “GOING FOR AN INDIAN”—or “out for a curry”—has become an increasingly prominent aspect of British social, economic, and cultural life since the 1960s. In assessing the wide appeal of South Asian food and restaurants in April 2001, Britain’s late Foreign Secretary Robin Cook proclaimed that “Chicken Tikka Massala”—one of the cuisine’s mainstays among British diners—had become “a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences. Chicken Tikka is an Indian dish. The Massala sauce was added...

    • NINE Global Flows, Local Bodies: DREAMS OF PAKISTANI GRILL IN MANHATTAN
      (pp. 175-195)
      Krishnendu Ray

      A DEFINITIVE STUDY of immigration proposed by the Committee on International Migration of the Social Science Research Council of United States, titledImmigration Research for a New Century(Foner, Rumbaut, & Gold 2000), underlines the saliency of race, language, gender, yet it lists neither the body nor embodiment in its index and section bibliographies.¹ Such an omission has greater significance when it persists in the new edition of a self-consciously interdisciplinary and theoretically attuned volume such asMigration Theory(Brettell & Hollifield 2008), where the migrant’s body is once again only indirectly visible and never object of theoretical attention. Another current instance...

    • TEN From Curry Mahals to Chaat Cafés: SPATIALITIES OF THE SOUTH ASIAN CULINARY LANDSCAPE
      (pp. 196-218)
      Arijit Sen

      ETHNIC RESTAURANTS and grocery stores play an important role in the creation of contemporary American urban culture. Difference, both symbolic and real, is expressed through cuisine and culinary practices in these sites. Increasingly such spaces are emerging in neighborhoods impacted by demographic, economic, and political restructuring and urban revitalization in American cities. Hole-in-the-wall eating spots, gourmet ghettos, and foodie places have become part of our urban experience. Various social stakeholders—what Nancy Fraser would call multiple publics (Fraser 1992)—interact and meet in these places making these locations part of a larger public realm where ethnic worlds intersect mainstream landscapes,...

    • ELEVEN Masala Matters: GLOBALIZATION, FEMALE FOOD ENTREPRENEURS, AND THE CHANGING POLITICS OF PROVISIONING
      (pp. 219-236)
      Tulasi Srinivas

      THE CONTEXT FOR THIS exploration is the specific question of local and global articulation (Miller 2005: 55) of prepackaged Indian food and its shifting meanings as it travels across the globe. Sidney Mintz noted in his pathbreaking study of the ethnohistory of sugar that studying the consumption of food constitutes the “inside meaning of food,” but the socioeconomic contexts of the larger “institutional changes” of the production of food—the “outside meaning” of food—(1996: 10) are equally important, as they are in fact structures of power (1996: 22 quoting Eric Wolf 1990: 586–587) and shape “the field of...

    • POSTSCRIPT: Globalizing South Asian Food Cultures: EARLIER STOPS TO NEW HORIZONS
      (pp. 237-254)
      R. S. Khare

      The anthropological study of human food systems, although carried out since the beginning of the field, is becoming an important subfield and is proving “valuable for debating and advancing anthropological theory and research methods” (Mintz & Du Bois 2002: 99; also Messer 1984: 205–249). This postscript cannot be comprehensive, so it will focus on a few trajectories in anthropological food studies that will help us connect a much longer tradition to the current iteration of South Asian “curried cultures,” as currently imagined by the urban, middle-class Indians at home and in the diaspora. In such a pursuit, the anthropological...

  6. REFERENCES
    (pp. 255-298)
  7. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 299-302)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 303-316)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 317-319)