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Title: Eating the seed : the use of foods in the structuring and repoduction of social relations in Nepali Chhetri community
Author: Rutter, Deborah Edith
ISNI:       0000 0004 2716 7652
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1993
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This account of a community of Nepali Chhetris (Kshatriya) considers foods as a series of signs, purposefully selected and prepared to convey meaning to the social actors between whom food transactions take place, and hence taking a critical role in the structuring of such relationships. It examines the pattern of feeding relationships between kin and affines (including a detailed analysis of wedding rites), and reflects upon the mutual responsibility or unilateral characteristics exemplified by food interchange. The sharing and allocation of certain types of food, notably jutho, polluted leavings, and analogous remains, inaugurates and defines sexual and patrilineal relationships crucial to the sexual and social reproduction of the community: continuity as a value in Hindu (Chhetri) life is reiterated through a detailed analysis of the uses of rice, curd and salt. The 'substance' of kinship is realised through feeding relationships (while birth is merely a pre-condition). By corollary, it appears that the marginalisation of other castes in relation to the Chhetris depends upon the declining relevance of inter-caste feeding relationships as a consequence of reversal over time in the land:labour ratio. Control over productive resources, and the division of labour, in this community is briefly examined as a background to definitions of social adulthood as self-sufficiency in food production, and the meaning of food in .the context of shortage ~lucidates aspects of social competition, scarcity and illicit circulation of food, e.g. stealing. The ethical considerations behind the transfer of food and services is considered in relation to the kshatra-dharma, as one aspect of the construction of Chhetri identity. Food is used to define, augment and reflect the characteristics of all ritual activities. Foods - or abstention from particular foods - are the media through which abnormal states are experienced, and critical transformative rites of passage are achieved, including the passage between life and dea tho Through the analogy of plant, human and cosmic regeneration and fertility, the correct conveyance of food, in particular between mortals and divines, reproduces the social, moral and physical universe. Food conveyance, consumption and renunciation is a means by which the individual aims to exercise control over the universe and her/his role in it: equally, as a social cipher, food acts as a metaphorical tool through which Nepali Chhetri culture is concisely transmitted, with the blessings of the tikaa, to subsequent generations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available