Eighteenth M. N. Srinivas Memorial Lecture: “Consumer Citizenship: The Social Life of Industrial Foods in India” by Prof. Amita Baviskar, J.R.D. Tata Auditorium, NIAS, 1800hrs


National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bengaluru 560 012, India


invite you to the


Eighteenth M. N. Srinivas Memorial Lecture

 (Sponsored by Syndicate Bank)


to be delivered by


Prof. Amita Baviskar

Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi




Consumer Citizenship: The Social Life of Industrial Foods in India




Wednesday, January 2, 2019

at 6.00 p.m. (Coffee/Tea: 5.30 p.m.)

at J.R.D. Tata AuditoriumNIAS, IISc Campus, Bengaluru 560 012


Chairperson: Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Director, NIAS


Abstract: Maggi, instant noodles introduced in India in the early 1980s by Nestlé, is now not only a popular snack, but the favourite comfort food of an entire generation of young urban Indians. Can the success of Maggi tell us anything about the changing dynamics of Indian society?  At first glance, the fast-rising consumption of such 'industrial foods' seems to be a familiar story about powerful multinational corporations triumphing over regional and national foodways.  This lecture will show that the spread of global capitalism is only one part of the story.  Maggi and other processed foods create a national politics of 'consumer citizenship' in a deeply unequal society.  Poor and low-caste people aspire to eat commodities that allow them to leave behind stigmatized food practices.  Young people find in instant noodles an expression of their agency, challenging power relations in the patriarchal family, creating sociality around fun and not duty. This lecture uses Maggi noodles as a device for understanding how industrial foods transform the simmering broth of social relations that is India’s cultural landscape.


About the speaker: Amita Baviskar is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.  After studying Economics and Sociology at the University of Delhi, she received her PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University.  She has taught at the University of Delhi and has been a visiting scholar at several universities including Oxford, Stanford, Cornell, Yale, SciencesPo, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Cape Town.  Amita Baviskar’s research focuses on the cultural politics of environment and development in rural and urban India.  Her first book In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts over Development in the Narmada Valley (Oxford University Press, 1995) and other writings explore the themes of resource rights, popular resistance and discourses of environmentalism.  Her forthcoming collection of essays addresses bourgeois environmentalism and the making of “world-class” cities.  She is currently studying industrial foods and agrarian environments in western India. Her publications include the book Untouchability in Rural India (co-authored with Ghanshyam Shah, Harsh Mander, Sukhdeo Thorat and Satish Deshpande, Sage, 2006) and the edited volumes Waterlines: The Penguin Book of River Writings (Penguin, 2003); Waterscapes: The Cultural Politics of a Natural Resource (Permanent Black 2006); Contested Grounds: Essays on Nature, Culture and Power (Oxford University Press, 2008); Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes (with Raka Ray, Routledge, 2011); and First Garden of the Republic: Nature on the President’s Estate (Publications Division, 2016).  Amita Baviskar’s research has been widely recognized.  She was awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies, the 2008 VKRV Rao Prize for Social Science Research, and the 2010 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences.  She serves on the boards of several professional journals and academic institutions.


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For further information, please contact Dr. M B Rajani <mbrajani@nias.res.in>  


Wednesday, January 2, 2019