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Author ORCID Identifier
Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America
Global Anglophone Indian fiction is rife with food imagery. Food is cooked, consumed, discussed, and remembered – as concrete praxis or sensory evocation, as uncanny encounter or displaced reenactment of “home,” food pervades the contemporary Anglophone Indian novel.
This dissertation places food at the centre, as legitimate object of inquiry within postcolonial literary readings, capable of impacting questions of form and meaning, of subjectivity and modernity. It argues that the inbetweenness, the ultimate cultural untranslatability of food in Anglophone fiction, its dynamic, assemblage aspect opens up a rich space of contingency and ambivalence that allow for both aesthetic and political decolonization. As food gets reworked for a global audience, its practices – cooking and eating, feasting and fasting – evoke a dissonance that goes beyond the linguistic; it functions as a shadow signifying system that is, however, sensual and plural, carrying disarticulated memories, and subjugated knowledges; opportunities that point at new articulations of gender, sexuality, caste, class and nationality.
Through chapters on the treatment of purity and pollution as a way of mediating cosmopolitan identity in Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children; the exploration of queer sexualities through depictions of disgust and impurity in works by R. Raj Rao, Neel Mukherjee, and Abha Dawesar; the experience of the monstrous in terms of gender in everyday consumption behavior in Anita Desai and Arvind Adiga’s texts; and the negotiation of immigrant out-of-placeness through changes in habitus in Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories, Divided Tongues situates food practices at the heart of a fractured postcolonial modernity. While Global Anglophone fiction moves towards an aesthetic of vibrant multiculturalism and exuberant postmodernity, moving away from representations of abstinence and scarcity, the use of food within it reveals an ongoing engagement with latent and emerging constructions of the monstrous, the abject, the grotesque, the disgusting, and the uncanny. By problematizing food within the cosmopolitan Indian fiction of the 1980s and beyond, the category in which it is deemed to be most accessible to an international audience, this dissertation expands the archive of imperialism in South Asia, providing a global perspective to literary and cultural studies on colonialism and postcolonialism.
Ray, Shakuntala, "Divided Tongues: The Politics and Poetics of Food in Modern Anglophone Indian Fiction" (2019). Doctoral Dissertations. 1755.
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