Psychology of Caste in Food: A Letter to My Upper Caste Friend

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Angel Sophan


In the upper caste imagination, the general notion of caste has mostly been limited to marriage, reservation, and politics. However, the everyday nature of caste often lies in the state of dismissal or un-acknowledgement by the upper caste. This letter is addressed to individuals/ communities who assume the position of upper caste and it aims to ignite conversations with an open mind and heart about the lives of those at the other end of the caste spectrum. A key focus of this letter is on Food—an important aspect of our lives where casteism is blatant and brutal. The letter explores a history of food practices and also addresses how food choices aid in discrimination and social exclusion of communities even in contemporary times. Using a lens of ‘psyche of the oppressor’, we discuss how food practices shapes an upper caste individual’s psyche along the factors of delusion of caste superiority, socially favored caste behavior and intergenerational transmission of caste attitudes. The letter does not comment on individual choices or preferences; it rather focuses on the system in which vegetarianism is considered supreme, which facilitates in ignoring the pluralities of the country and thereby pushing the ‘other’ into margins/ peripheries and does not take cognizance of their culture and history.

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Sophan, A. (2024). Psychology of Caste in Food: A Letter to My Upper Caste Friend. CASTE A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 5(2), 259–269.
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