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The Anatomy of Obesity: Cartman and the Economy of Consumption in South Park

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Food Culture Studies in India
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Abstract

Drawing on parallels between the US and South Asian contexts around food, this paper utilizes South Park as a way to discuss stratification, commensality and caste. Framing an imagined desi version of South Park as a tool to engage with the reverse phenomenon of “theorising from the West”, the attempt has been to look at alternative genealogies to the concept of hygiene. Caste, as an analytical tool, frees itself from its academic specificities and enters into global dialogues where first-world multinational companies are forced to speak the language of purity and pollution in order to survive in a highly stratified urban society. While the focus has been on introducing the larger audience to the atrocities of caste, the paper also pushes forward the idea that the present situation need not be read as a continuation of the premodern. Rather, diverse and more severe dispositions and practices are now in place. To recognize the full potential of such urban stratificatory discourses, it is important to be able to draw connections from larger popular culture. South Park helps take up a seemingly specific issue and highlight the global nature of discourses like caste that needs to be given primacy just like other universal tropes like gender or race.

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Correspondence to Safwan Amir .

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Amir, S., Mital, I. (2021). The Anatomy of Obesity: Cartman and the Economy of Consumption in South Park. In: Malhotra, S., Sharma, K., Dogra, S. (eds) Food Culture Studies in India. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-5254-0_10

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