On SAGE Insight: Food and Campus Politics in India

Article title: Food Politics and Counter-Hegemonic Assertion in Indian University Campuses

From South Asia Research

Recently, heated debates concerning food politics have erupted at some of the most prestigious institutes of higher education in India. Students demand inclusion of beef and other meat in their hostel food menu, claiming hostel canteens represent only ‘mainstream’ Hindu culture. To boycott this culture and instil consciousness of their cosmopolitan life-world, they organise campus ‘Beef Festivals’ and publicly idolise so-called ‘demons’ of Hindu mythology.

This article explores the activism of marginalised students as counterhegemonic and critically examines the ideological standpoints involved. As university spaces become significant sites to reinvent caste identities, we see that in their counter-hegemonic struggles, marginalised students employ the same tools and symbols of meat and myth as their opponents. The article discusses one of the least studied area i.e. Campus Politics.

Present day activism of marginalised students on university campuses in India offers a new epistemic understanding of the existing hegemony of a particular belief system. Moreover, it is qualitatively different from that of previous decades in which it has gradually shifted from ideology to identity-based activism. Students’ philosophical activity must be seen as ‘above all a cultural battle to transform the popular mentality’.

Abstract

Recently, heated debates concerning food politics have erupted at some of the most prestigious institutes of higher education in India. Students demand inclusion of beef and other meat in their hostel food menu, claiming hostel canteens represent only ‘mainstream’ Hindu culture. To boycott this culture and instil consciousness of their cosmopolitan life-world, they organise campus ‘Beef Festivals’ and publicly idolise so-called ‘demons’ of Hindu mythology. Using a Gramscian framework, this article explores the activism of marginalised students as counterhegemonic and critically examines the ideological standpoints involved. As university spaces become significant sites to reinvent caste identities, we see that in their counter-hegemonic struggles, marginalised students employ the same tools and symbols of meat and myth as their opponents. It is argued that this strategy ultimately risks contradicting the goal of their activism and may block broader visions of an equal and just society.

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Article details:
Food Politics and Counter-Hegemonic Assertion in Indian University Campuses
Gaurav J. Pathania
First Published July 12, 2016
DOI: 10.1177/0262728016638732
South Asia Research

 

 

     
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