gastro-politics in Hindu South Asia



The general semiotic properties of food take particularly intense forms in the context of gastro-politics – where food is the medium, and sometimes the message, of conflict. In South Asia, where beliefs about food encode a complex set of social and moral propositions, food serves two diametrically opposed semiotic functions: it can either homogenize the actors who transact in it, or it can serve to heterogenize them. In the Tamil Brahmin community of South India, this underlying tension takes three particular forms in the arenas of the household, the marriage feast, and the temple. [food, symbolism, semiotics, politics, South India]