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Title: Civilizing tastes: From caste to class in South Indian foodways
Authors: Staples, J
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Citation: Food Consumption in Global Perspective: Essays in the Anthropology of Food in Honour of Jack Goody, 2014, pp. 65 - 86 (21)
Abstract: Anthropological explorations of food in South Asia are often framed by theories of caste and ritual purity or pollution, with the highest castes characterised as protecting their purity by accepting food from no-one of lower caste status, and those at the bottom accepting food from anyone. The problem with this focus on caste is not that it is misguided per se; many Hindus do indeed regulate their consumption in relation to such concerns, and a quotidian understanding of caste remains vital in understanding how people in India relate to one another. Rather, the problem is that our focus on caste as the defining social institution of India has obscured social relationships defined by other cross-cutting hierarchies that also, and increasingly, reflect and shape Indian foodways. Drawing on prolonged ethnographic fieldwork in Andhra Pradesh, South India, this chapter is concerned with how class in particular – both in terms of economic status and as a marker of distinction – also has profound implications for what people in South India eat, with whom, and why; particularly in the wake of the economic liberalisation that began in the 1990s and the emergence of new foods and tastes ripe for symbolic appropriation.
DOI: http://dx.doi.or/10.1057/9781137326416_4
ISBN: 978-1-137-32641-6
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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