Accepted paper:

Waiting for food


Manpreet Janeja (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper unpacks the dynamics of the entanglements of waiting, immediacy, and expectation that characterise state-sponsored conduits of feeding in India.

Paper long abstract:

Hunger continues to be a divisive matter of concern globally. It generates various contentious intervention programmes and welfare initiatives that seek to address it in areas both developed and developing. The Chhapra school meal tragedy in the Indian state of Bihar brought the Midday Meal Scheme back into the spotlight, and the National Food Security Bill 2013 did the same especially with the Public Distribution System (PDS). These schemes have sought to alleviate and manage issues of hunger, poverty, malnutrition, and socio-cultural prejudices amidst changing economic, political and social demands, with relative degrees of success in different states of the Indian federation. This paper explores these initiatives as located witin the field of contested neo-liberal forms of governance. One is confronted by queues of people waiting for food in state-maintained schools and PDS shops. One is also confronted by various contentious strategies and measures of monitoring, accountability, and transparency that seek to calculate and regulate uncertainty, distrust, and risk that characterise these state-sponsored conduits of feeding. In describing these public performances of governmentality, the paper unpacks the dynamics of the entanglements of waiting, immediacy, and expectation. In so doing, it suggests that hunger might productively be reconceptualised as a nexus of variegated elements - material, spatio-temporal, normative, bureaucratic.

panel P40
Ethnographies of waiting