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Between Market and “Home-Cooked” Food: Understanding Contours of Domesticity


· Aanchal Dhull Ambedkar University, Delhi (New Delhi, India)


07/28 | 09:20-09:40 UTC+2/CEST


Between Market and “Home-cooked” Food: Understanding Contours of Domesticity

Feminism has historically shared a troubled relationship with domesticity. Much has evolved since the anti-domesticity stance taken by “second wave” feminists, who brought attention to the figure of housewife (See, for instance Friedan 1963; Oakley 1974). However, this was followed by critique from Black feminists who argued that all women did not have the choice to “reject” housework. Unlike the West, the issue of housework has not garnered as much attention in the Indian context, nor has it been at the center of feminist political mobilization. Parallel to this, feminist scholarship has focused on domestic workers in terms of labor conditions and rights, but not on housework as such. Therefore, housework in the Indian context has not been framed in terms of oppression/empowerment binary, but how caste and class intersect with housework.

Based on a field study conducted in Delhi, the paper problematizes the discourse around ‘choice’ through women’s narratives on cooking. Across the range of interviews conducted, it was found that decisions pertaining to cooking are not autonomous, rather constructed by and reflective of reconfigurations in the market and as well as family. The analysis also seeks to understand how women conduct themselves in these conflicting undercurrents, where women are constantly engaging with a growing market of convenience food on the one hand and the moral pressure to make homemade products on the other.

Keywords: Feminism; domesticity; cooking; choice; family.