Appetite: India in the Time of the Chicken

Professor Naisargi N. Dave, University of Toronto

Monday, February 24, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
164 Royce Hall

This paper attempts to address a question—does that which is inevitable cease to matter?—by way of an ethnography of producers, marketers, and consumers of industrial meat in northern India, as well as those who seek to slow or abolish the industrial production of meat. The essay turns on an examination of two phrases. One is hoga hi hoga, or “it will be, no matter what.” This phrase is used to express the inevitability of the growth of the market for industrial meat. The other is chahiye hi chahiye, or “it has to be had.” This phrase was common among marketers promoting “ideal foods” like chicken that Indian consumers across faith would not be able to live without, and would not have to reflect upon desiring. I consider the question of mattering, both in terms of “making matter,” such as the establishing of tastes as must-have things, as well as what it means to decide that things matter.

Professor Dave’s research concerns emergent forms of politics and relationality in contemporary urban India. Her book, Queer Activism in India: A Story in the Anthropology of Ethics (Duke 2012) explores the relationship among queer politics, activism, and affect. Her second book project, The Social Skin: Humans and Animals in India engages critically with humanism and the privileging of reason to consider myriad facets of working with and for urban and working animals in India. Professor Dave teaches courses on animality and posthumanism, affect, ethics, anthropological theory, activism, gender and sexuality, and the anthropology of South Asia.



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