International Journal of South Asian Studies
Online ISSN : 2434-3005
Gastronomy, Household and State Formation in Early Modern South Asia:
Representation of Food and Feasts in Indo-Persian Sources
Shivangini Tandon
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2021 Volume 11 Pages 4-17


This paper explores the inter-linkages between the culinary practices, household and the state in the early modern period as represented in the Indo-Persian sources. In drawing out these intricate connections the sources of the period reveal, in rich details, the political significance of gift-exchanges (in particular, the exchange of fruits and food delicacies), feasts and festivities and supper invitations. These events served to reinforce political alliances, and were a part of a symbolic economy of exchange that legitimated imperial rule, and organized social and political arrangements in the imperial court culture.

The interconnections between feast/food habits and the Mughal ‘political economy’ help us understand the social and political identities and the self-perception of communities. These inter connections, though very significant, have often been ignored especially in the context of early Modern South Asian history. By making gastronomy and food practices the centre point of my study, I seek to argue that the domestic site was as much a political domain involved in the structuring of Mughal sovereignty and forging significant socio-political alliances.

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© 2021 The Japanese Association for South Asian Studies
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