I’m sitting in Senate House library, daunted by the prospect of writing my next essay but geekily enjoying the wooden and booky smell of old-fashioned library and its creaky silence. I smile at the pile of books about multiculturalism that I’m chewing my way through and snuggle up in the solitude.
I’m contemplating some very interesting things: from the macro (culture, globalisation, migration, religion, creolisation, place and space, racism, history, and so on) to the micro (samosas, steel drums and Salman Rushdie). I’m happy.
Slightly bogged down by the complexity of it all, I was delighted to come across a paragraph which appealed to my inner arts student and made me chuckle. I include it here for all those girls who’ve been out for a curry with a boy and raised their eyes at his insistence on ordering the hottest vindaloo on the menu. Apparently there is SO much more going on there than first meets the eye.
“Highmore has a slightly different take on white interactions with ‘exotic’ food cultures. Highmore suggests that ‘taste and smell play an inexorable role in everyday forms of racism…’ but ‘they are also central components for convivial cosmopolitan intercultural ethnic exchange’. Arguing for the importance of exploring intercultural sensual life, he tells the story of an aggressively masculine white working-class man eating in a South Asian restaurant in London’s Brick Lane. Highmore argues that the chilli in this man’s curry has agentic qualities which mediates his engagement with his racial Other, in this case the South Asian restaurateur. The chilli becomes an agent through which this man performs his masculinity. The relationship this produces with his Asian counterpart, however, is highlight ambivalent; the chilli becomes an ironic marker of white working-class masculinity, but it is the chilli with whom he does battle and which mediates his relation to the South Asian restaurateur.” (Everyday Multiculturalism, A.Wise and S. Velayutham (eds.), 2009, p.9)
And who says academia doesn’t have anything to say about the real world?! LOL, if you like.