n Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies - Food as a measure of complete diplomacy : balancing India-Africa partnership through accommodating taste

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2414-8636


Food builds stronger bonds between people and countries and offers an important setting to enhance diplomatic and trade ties. Advocates of food diplomacy concur that food can be used as a code for conveying information about social events and social relations based on the commonalities of the structure of each meal across culture. This paper argues that food is an experience, not only something we can enjoy, but something that we can share. The paper also explores how food fulfils a cultural and emotional gap and connects displaced and uprooted people to "left places". Furthermore the paper traces India's presence in Africa and examines how this has influenced its use of food as a foundation for public diplomacy programmes, to learn about different cultures and discuss important related issues such as nutrition, sustainability and food security. This paper therefore examines the nascent field of food diplomacy and suggests that through food, India has managed to bring awareness of the political situation in their adopted country by putting on events, performances and discussions as a way of expanding its engagement with different cultures. Additionally, this paper debates the act of winning hearts and minds through stomachs, and ways by which food can be used by a country to promote its national identity and encourage economic investment. This paper takes an anthropological observation in a contrapuntal modernity by asking how, why and when the food consumed in Durban in particular and KwaZulu-Natal in general has managed to arrive at a distinguishable taste; displaying characteristics of India and South Africa.

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