The Naga Scholars’ Association will be hosting a panel discussion on 1st August, 2020 at 5pm, via Zoom webinar on the Politics of Food as announced from NSA Facebook handle.
Have a look at the Concept Note and the Panelists.
What you eat, who you eat with, how you eat and where you eat are all socially and culturally determined. Production of food, its distribution, state control, and policy making also has a socio-economic and political context. The politics of food decided many aspects to our culinary culture. In the Indian context, meat-eating has always been mired in controversies and politicisations. The most recent one being banning of dog meat in Nagaland. Many research findings indicate that India was never a total vegetarian country. An overwhelming majority of Indians eat meat of one kind or the other. Throughout history, animals are largely raised and slaughtered for food. The consumption also includes wild animals and birds as well. It is true that food metaphors connect with everyone. Perhaps, this explains why food is being drawn into battles that pit countries, communities and regions against each other.
The recent Government Order of the State of Nagaland for prohibition of commercial import and trading of dogs and the sale of dog meat in the state have yet attracted scholars worthy of a discourse on the contentious issue. While the news has been applauded by many animal activists, people in Nagaland and adjoining states are taken aback over the manner in which the decision was made without even consulting the Naga tribes who consume dog meat as a part of their food culture. This also sheds light on how it overlooked Article 371A of Nagaland which bestows Nagaland a special right to allow Naga tribes to practice and maintain their customary law and tradition. The prohibition is thus an intrusion in the private spheres of the Nagas. This imposition and control over food culture could be construed as an attempt to regulate people ‘what to eat’ and ‘what not to eat’, or prohibiting or banning the consumption of certain kinds of foods.
Keeping in view the ongoing public discourse, the NSA is initiating a webinar for a larger debate on why certain culinary practices are seen as cruel and savage, and while others are considered appropriate.This takes us to the focal point as to why dog meat consumption is considered savage, barbaric and inhuman, even as other animals are consumed in India and the world. There are underpinning pertinent questions on the contentious issue. Why was there no debate at all before being banned in view of the fact that dog meat has been part of Naga traditional cuisine? How does eating beef, pork, fish, or chicken make one’s food choice or food culture morally acceptable while other kinds of meat are not or not eating any of them? Is there any relationship between food habit and civilization? Should traditional food habits be imposed and/or curbed by the state?
In the backdrop of nation-building processes, the contradiction between the processes of assimilation and the homogenization-codification that have typified interventions by the State on one hand, and the development needs and rights of the Naga people on the other are being framed as either ‘reform’ or ‘repression’. This webinar looks forward to generating discourse towards the right to food culture and help create consciousness among people to counter against the exploitative anti-people policy of the state and cultural hegemony.
Dr.Jelle JP Wouters,
Head, Deptt of Political Science & Sociology,
Royal Thimpu College,
Royal University of Bhutan
Dr. Eyingbeni Humtsoe Nienu
Baptist Theological College,
Faculty, School of Social Sciences,
IGNOU, New Delhi.
Faculty of Political Science,
Azim Premji University, Bangalore
Dr. Dolly Kikon
Faculty, School of Social & Political Sciences,
University of Melbourne, Australia
PhD Scholar, TISS, Mumbai
Meeting id: 82003910280
Live Streaming: Facebook Live