Eating Together, Social Tension, and the Question of Equality in Western India

Modern questions about the past are often much more tangled than they first appear. For example, when Hindu devotional (bhakti) traditions began revering formerly marginalized people—women, low castes, and Dalits—were they promoting social equality? To fully appreciate how this question arose and what it signified to those who asked it, we need an approach that combines multiple subdisciplines of history, anthropology, text criticism, and media studies. As I consider how stories about food and transgressive commensality changed across centuries and media forms, I reflect on the deeply interdisciplinary approach that emerged from my research.