Rolling with the Rotis: Body Techniques around the Bay of Bengal

Speaker: Krishnendu Ray
Venue: Hosted via Zoom
Date & Time:
2022-5-27 | 21:00-22:30 (Shanghai)
2022-5-27 | 9:00-10:30 (New York)
2022-5-27 | 17:00-18:30 (Abu Dhabi)

“Every habit makes our hand more witty, and our wit more handy” Nietzsche

Taking mundane instances of making various kinds of rotis at home and in the marketplaces, and paan chewing around the Bay of Bengal littoral, I build on recent theorizations about doing and thinking. As a sociologist among historians, I tend to look backward from the current material evidence to its historical sedimentation across different temporalities. I distinguish between things and actions that have long lineages and ones with shorter pedigrees. Practices such as cooking and eating precede individuals, who are thrown into a world with standards of mutually intelligible and acceptable behavior. Drawing on recent theorization in Anthropology and Sociology, I develop an argument about the unconscious relationship between normed practice and performative instance. In this new behavioral bent, culture is less about values in the head, and more about repetitive practices of the body and the mind. Cooking is a micropractice with larger implications, about connectivities and differences, continuities and change.

Krishnendu Ray is a Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. He was the Chair of the department from 2012-2021. He is the author of The Migrant’s Table (2004) and The Ethnic Restaurateur (2016) and the co-editor of Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food and South Asia (2012). He was formerly a faculty member and the Acting Associate Dean of Liberal Arts at The Culinary Institute of America (1996-2005) and the President of The Association for the Study of Food and Society from 2014-2018. He is an Editorial Collective Member of the Food Studies journal Gastronomica.

Introduction by Kathleen Burke, Doctoral Fellow, Center for Global Asia, NYU Shanghai; PhD Candidate, University of Toronto.



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