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IIT Madras launches elective course on 'Food Cultures'

IIT Madras launches elective course on 'Food Cultures'

  • 29th Apr 2021
  • Education Times, Times of India

The course will provide a deep dive into the universally relatable area of food studies

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) will launch an elective course titled 'Food Cultures' approaching the culture of food from various angles, for scholars across different engineering disciplines.

The course will be offered from the 2021-22 academic year. A total of 40 students would be admitted for this elective course in the initial year.

The key objective is to broaden the anthropology elective offerings at IIT Madras by offering a specialized course that would also invite interdisciplinary thought. It will be available to the UG students in all the 16 departments of IIT Madras.

This course will serve as an introduction to the many ways in which the gathering, growing, preparation and serving of food is one of the most universal acts in present day culture, even as it is rife with particularities of geography, history and materiality.

An anthropological study of food within a cultural system includes economy, materiality, distinction, inequality, gender, status, and food as a symbol.

Elaborating on the relevance of 'Food Cultures' elective to engineering students, course coordinator Mathangi Krishnamurthy, associate professor of Anthropology, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, said, " Students at IIT Madras have shown keen interest and active engagement in courses on culture, society and language. Food Cultures takes a cue from this and offers a specialized look at a universal area of interest, food."

"Students need to understand where the food comes from, who grows it, who sells, who cuts, cleans and cooks, and how the loss of taste and smell have become markers of this entire pandemic."

The key benefits for students taking this course include - deepening of analytical skills vis-A -vis culture, understanding what makes society function, application of the social sciences, the relevance of humanities and social sciences and better writing skills.

Through ten modules intended at covering aspects of food cultures, it explores what it means to think about culture as food and food as culture:

1.Food and the anthropology of food: A brief history

2.The Tasting of Food: Meditations on the physical, chemical, and neurophysiological bases of taste

3.Food and labor

4.Nutritionism and society

5.The Food Industry

6.Food communication, consumption, and entertainment

7.Food and gender

8.Food as symbol

9.Food, memory, and writing

10.Field-visit and project