Issue 9 Food for Thought:
Food, Embodiment, and Knowledge

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Note From The Editors

The paradox of studying food is that scholars necessarily rely on the very instruments of discourse that reify a hierarchy of the senses designed to render food unworthy of serious thought: Images and texts appeal to the “higher” sense of sight; they “figure the material as intellectual, imaginative, symbolic, aesthetic,” Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson claims (2004, 17). Reason cannot be found in the “lower” senses while eating reminds us too much of our body’s needs. But Krishnendu Ray reminds us that “much of the sociology of the body continues to be devoted to theoretical argumentation focussed on gender, sexuality, and disease, belying the sense that all social action {…} is always embodied” (2016, 26).

Read more in the Note From the Editors

Today’s Special

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There are different accounts about how riots engulfed Muzaffarnagar in Western Uttar Pradesh, which also happens to be India’s biggest jaggery market. Mohammad Salim, a sugar mill worker from Shamli, does not want to get to the details of what started it. Although his tiny hamlet was untouched by communal riots, in which Muslims and Jats were at each other’s throats, his family decided to shift. “Look! What the riots have got us into. 80,000 tonnes of jaggery were left to rot in the Mandi,” Salim. When riots started in Muzaffarnagar, which many believe is a family feud, not a single worker was seen in the mills.

After a month or so since the riots hit the mandi, with nobody to harvest the standing sugarcane crop, the mill owners and rich farmers, mostly from the Jat community sought government’s intervention. “The police officials who looked the other way when the riots started, the government officials who never visited us for over 15 days in the relief camps … suddenly all of them realized that the importance of mill workers and farm hands,” says Salim, whose wife gave birth to a son in the relief camp. Most of the farm hands refused to cut the standing sugarcane crop last December. Time was running out for the big farmers, as sowing wheat during the peak of winter would lead to a crop failure. In some areas such as Khandla, the arrogant farmers just burnt the standing sugarcane. “Nobody wants to talk about the riots now. The vultures are supporting them, so these farmers have also started dreaming big. They think they will make jaggery this year without the help of local Muslim boys,” says Santosh Lal from the Gud Mandi (Jaggery market).

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