E66: Food, Culture, and Intimacy (w/ Dr. Anita Mannur)
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On today’s show, Ben and Alex have the privilege to dish with Dr. Anita Mannur, Professor of English and Asian American Studies at Miami University, about her research on the intersections that food has with culture, race, and gender.
We begin the conversation by reflecting on how discourses around food and consumption practices, especially in postcolonial contexts, reflect our ideas of national identity and “authenticity” - for instance, the debate over whether Chicken Tikka Masala is an “authentic” Indian dish, despite its origins as an accommodation of traditional Indian cuisine to Anglo-European sensibilities. As Anita notes in her work, cultural conversations around food, and reactions to those foods’ smells, tastes, and appearance are often tied to various social identities that we carry in other aspects of our lives, and can tell us a great deal about what happens as we negotiate those identities through various sensory experiences.
Throughout our discussion, we trace the transformative (often homosocial and even queer) practices that emerge in intimate spaces of food production like the kitchen - exchanging knowledge, gossip, and other affective sensations. We also examine some sites that constitute of what Anita calls “intimate eating publics,” such as the now-defunct Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh, PA (RIP). Between talking about Anita’s analyses of some of these eating publics from her new book Intimate Eating (such as The Great British Baking Show), we share intimate stories from our own culinary lives, and make a few delicious food puns along the way. It’s a delightful conversation that we hope you’ll find comestible and digestible!
Works and Concepts Referenced in this Episode
Ku, R.J-S., Manalansan, M.F., Mannur, A. (Eds.). (2013). Eating Asian America: A food studies reader. New York University Press.
Mannur, A. (2009). Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture. Temple University Press.
Mannur, A. (2017). Un-homing Asian American studies: Refusals and the politics of commitment. In Schlund-Vials, C. (Ed.), Flashpoints for Asian American studies (pp. 82-98). Fordham University Press.
Mannur, A. (2022). Intimate Eating: Racialized Spaces and Radical Futures. Duke University Press.
Trinh, L., Wong, K.S., Schlund-Vials, C.J. (Eds.). (2015). Keywords for Asian American Studies. NYU Press.