Accepted paper:

Food Tasks and Food Allocation: A Case Study of a Matrilineal Society


Quinbala Marak (North-Eastern Hill University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will look at the food strategies of the Garos of India over time. It will also try and study its ramifications on gender, allocation of food and allocation of work etc. Ultimately it will try to analyse how these play an impact on health issues and if so to what extent.

Paper long abstract:

It is generally assumed that just as in a patrilineal or patriarchal society, men and boys are treated better and have a better status than women, it would be the converse in a matrilineal society. This paper explores this notion through the universe of food, food getting activities, and food allocation and its relation to broader health issues. The matrilineal group discussed are the Garos a tribe living in North-Eastern India traditionally dependent on shifting cultivation. This form of dry cultivation is done on a rotation basis for multiple crops, where family (both men and women, and children) and kin-members share in work and outcome distribution. In the state of Assam where Garos are found in substantial number, this traditional form of food-getting is now overtaken by wet cultivation, where rice and vegetables are grown in designated plots. The earlier gender equation prevalent in dry cultivation has to some extent been affected by this change in economy. Interestingly again, in the present times, this form of cultivation too is beginning to be replaced by cash crop plantations, where crops with a higher market value such as cashews, oranges, betelnut etc. are being targeted and planted. This whole scenario of change from one to the other systems of agriculture, I believe, is a result of the Garos' adaptation to changing times and environment. Whether this change in the food getting activities has any impact on food allocation and ultimately on health is proposed to be discussed herein.

panel LD03
Health and emerging regional demographic trends