Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 20 September 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is from the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics, and Society edited by Ronald Herring. Cultural anthropologists have devoted considerable attention to multiple non-nutritional meanings and uses of food in diverse cultural worlds. This essay begins with a wide-ranging overview of some ways anthropology has portrayed food’s links to every aspect of human existence. Because this discipline’s prime method, fieldwork, is rooted in proximity and intimacy, sharing food with subjects of study has always been part of ethnographic experience. One major fascination lies in how biological food needs that are shared with all animals become culturally embellished with infinite variations that are evident in diverse aspects of life from cuisine to religious symbolism. The essay shifts focus to one ethnographic location in rural North India to examine three pervasive themes surrounding food in South Asian culture: solidarity, separation, and decline as a pervasive critique of modern tastelessness. Offering initially grounded examples of each theme, the essay moves to broader circles of related meanings in varied practices and narratives. Thus employing a classical interpretive mode in cultural anthropology, this chapter thinks through food values by tacking between far-reaching generalizations and highly localized specificities. In the context of a volume largely and properly focused on food materialities, conflicts, and policies, the chapter aims to evoke less concrete, less quantifiable aspects of comestibles in human cultures that may be nonetheless relevant to understanding interrelated workings of food, politics, and society. In many cultural worlds, moralities of sharing confront circumstances of inequity through acknowledging hunger as bodily knowledge common to all.

Keywords: anthropology, decline, ethnography, flavor, hierarchy, India, solidarity

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.