In the last three decades, although India has witnessed radical shifts in the modes of producing and consuming food, this has stimulated surprisingly little analytical attention. The changing political economy of food production and consumption and its role in reshaping social identities and agrarian environments remains remarkably understudied. This lecture outlines the preliminary contours of a project that attempts to analyze some of these shifts through a selective discussion of changing food practices in post-Independence western India. It delineates the widening circuits of food as a commodity form within the home and outside, spanned by the growth of processed foods and practices of 'eating out'. It outlines the changing signification of food practices for different social groups, and considers some potential health and ecological implications arising from the transformation. It makes the case for focused attention on food as a way of understanding social change in India.
Amita Baviskar, Associate Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth