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The (Un)Livable City: Food and Embodied Ambivalence in India's IT Capital

Monday, October 3, 2022 at 12:15pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

Talk by Camille Frazier

With its emergence as India’s IT Capital, Bengaluru [Bangalore] has experienced exponential growth since the early 1990s. The rapid pace of urbanization has provoked intense ambivalence among members of the urban middle class, many of whom are both beneficiaries and critics of the city’s transformation. As boulevard trees make way for elevated highways, residents of Bengaluru and its outskirts narrate their city as poised at the edge, between the glamour of a globally-connected IT hub and the destruction of a cityscape trapped in unyielding processes of urbanization. This talk explores middle-class narratives and practices of livability to detail a kind of life-making anchored in aspiration yet simultaneously haunted by broader socioeconomic, ecological, and ethical concerns that destabilize estimations of present and future wellbeing. I capture this tension by examining efforts to reconfigure fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains to address middle-class concerns and desires (both experienced and imagined). Food networks figure as sites wherein the effects of a rapidly-developing metropolis are embodied, narrated, and critiqued. Whether through urban gardening workshops or corporate claims-making about “direct” connections with farmers, food offers a critical locus for class-specific mediations of urban livability that shape everyday life. As a form of negotiation over the present and future of the developing city and the lives it supports (and neglects), efforts to rework Bengaluru’s food system highlight the embodied ambivalences of urban transformation and estimations of current and future wellbeing in South Asia and beyond.

Camille Frazier is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Clarkson University. Her ethnographic research explores the concept of livability as a sociopolitical, ecological, and ethical category. She is particularly interested in how changing food networks figure as sites for diverse evaluations of wellbeing. Her current book project examines these themes in the context of Bengaluru, India. 

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Global Development, City and Regional Planning, Anthropology


cascal, asianstudiescal, anthro



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