Sucharita Kanjilal

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Los Angeles, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10007

Approve Date

August 27, 2020

Project Title

Kanjilala, Sucharita (California, Los Angeles, U. of) "Gendered labor in the gastroscape: Food politics, digital technology and domestic cooking in India"

Food-based identity politics with an emphasis on vegetarianism have re-emerged in India alongside the growth of Hindu nationalism. Simultaneously, the Indian state’s “Digital India” campaign has made the internet widely available across the country. Recent literature on Indian gastro-politics and digital technology has focused primarily on its male actors, and on public spectacles such as mass lynchings. This project, in contrast, connects the domestic, the digital and the geopolitical through an ethnographic study of middle-class Indian housewives, who dominate online discourses on Indian cuisine through their vegetarian food blogs. With millions of followers, they are at the forefront of the global food blogosphere, acting as culinary gatekeepers of what does and does not count as “Indian food”. Vegetarian Indian food blogs draw a disproportionate share of web traffic though most Indians are not vegetarian. Thus, this project studies how new forms of nationalism are produced, reproduced and mediated through digital discourses on home cooking. I ask: Why has vegetarianism re-emerged as a hegemonic form of boundary-making in India, and how has digital technology affected this process? How does the feminized labor of home cooking relate to ongoing articulations of Hindu nationalism?