Anxious Hearths and Ambivalent Intimacies
Prof. Manpreet K. Janeja, Copenhagen University
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
Abstract: This paper focuses on re-imagining contemporary urban intimacies through the aesthetics of food in a city that aspires to be ‘world-class’. Taking the meal as the fulcrum of much activity in Bengali Hindu daily life in Calcutta in the Indian state of West Bengal, this paper traces the vicissitudes of what emerges as constantly negotiated and contested normal home food. It describes the relatively new phenomenon of cooks from ‘cooking centers’ working in middle-class households, and their work in such strategic negotiations, on the one hand, and the ambivalent role of hospitable street foods on the other. In the process, it renders visible the dynamics of (dis)trust, risk, and uncertainty in which these contextual culinary engagements are entangled. In doing so, it reveals the manner in which food-ways in a state of flux are reconfiguring forms of intimacy, belonging, and domesticity in a city caught in the throes of redefining itself.
Bio: Manpreet K. Janeja, Assistant Professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies and Regional Studies, Copenhagen University, is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for South Asia (CSA), Stanford University. Her work straddles the anthropology of trust, food and eating, cities, migration, law, and religion. She is the author of Transactions in Taste: the Collaborative Lives of Everyday Bengali Food (Routledge 2010; 2013). Linking issues of agency, place, hospitality, and ownership to the study of food as an artefact, the book invites the reader to approach the form that a meal acquires as a window on everyday life in South Asia (India and Bangladesh). She is currently working on her next book-length project provisionally titled The Aesthetics of School Meals: Distrust, Risk and Uncertainty, which draws on fieldwork in England and India. Her research has been supported by the Universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen, and she has held fellowships such as the Eugénie Strong Research Fellowship in Social Anthropology at Girton College, University of Cambridge.
For more information please contact
Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia