'FOOD AND EMOTION IN SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE'
Monday 27 October 2003, 9.30 - 5.30pm, Room 116, SOAS
Food, and not war or love, remains the greatest common denominator between divergent cultures. Indeed, it is through food that different people across the globe have learnt to experience (however tenuously) cultures that may have otherwise remained opaque to them. The great melting pot of globalisation has thus ensured that spices from one land, fruits from another, and cooking methods from a third have entered the privacy of our homes, our kitchens and our stomachs.
Yet, this very flattening out of the topology of food has created a curious imbalance. The focus on the varied kinds of food has led to an obfuscation of what food means to any given culture. The purpose of this workshop is to recover the cultural and, more specifically, emotional signification of food in South Asia. What food actually represents lies buried under manifold signifying practices such as gender, sexuality, politics, culture, and economics. Food thus speaks through many representative systems. For the purpose of this workshop we remain focused upon the literary and cinematic representations of food in South Asia.
Rukmini Bhaya Nair and Parama Roy, both leading thinkers in the field of literary criticism and postcolonial theory, will present
papers discussing sensitive and topical issues in contemporary South Asian culture. Anjana Sharma will speak on Indian writing in
English, focusing on women's fiction in particular. Thomas de Bruijn is a specialist in modern Hindi literature as well as
socio-literary theory, and will discuss a special issue of The Little Magazine dedicated to "hunger". Lakshmi Holmstrom is the
pre-eminent translator and critic of Ambai's Tamil fiction and will be speaking on food symbolism in Ambai's short stories.
Geetanjali Shree is a leading author of Hindi fiction, who will be discussing areas of her own writing. This small though highly
expert panel of speakers will be able to initiate a debate on a new and exciting area of South Asian Studies, leading the way for
further research and analysis.
9.30 Coffee and registration
9.45 Opening remarks: Lalita du Perron and Rachel Dwyer
10.00 Rukmini Bhaya Nair (IIT, Delhi): "No onions, no garlic, no love: The emotional significance of traditional restrictions on the diet of Hindu widows"
11.00 Parama Roy (University of California at Riverside): "Figures of famine"
12.15-13.15 Geetanjali Shree (Author, Delhi)
14.00 Anjana Sharma (Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi): "Food transfigured: writing the body in Indian Women's Fiction in English"
15.00 Thomas de Bruijn (University of Leiden): "What's the point of hunger?: The semantics of food and hunger in The Little
Magazine's special issue - 2001"
16.15 Lakshmi Holmstrom: "What's cooking?: Preparing and sharing food in Ambai's Tamil short stories"
17.15 Closing discussion
For further information, please go to the Centre for South Asian Studies website or contact Lalita du Perron (via email).
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