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The Tiffin Box, Epistolarity & Intimate Failures

Thursday, October 5, 2017
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Storrs Campus
Stern Lounge AUSTIN 217

Guest Lecture by Anita Mannur of Miami University at Oxford, OH

“The Tiffin Box, Epistolarity and Intimate Failures”

In this presentation Professor ANITA MANNUR will examine the value of turning to visual culture to examine how gender roles are being reimagined within the context of gendered household economy. She focuses her analysis on Ritesh Batra’s film The Lunchbox, a surprising hit in late 2013 and contender for India’s official nomination to the Oscar foreign film award.

Batra’s feature-length film is one of the few to structure its story around the “failure” of the dabbawalla (India’s lunchbox delivery system). When a lunchbox is delivered to the wrong address, Saajan the office worker who receives the unintended epistle (the meal) responds in kind with his own epistle—in his case a letter written in English. Over a series of weeks, the erroneous exchanges of epistles continue. The sender, Ila sends her “culinary” messages in the form of delicious meals packed into a tiffin, accompanied by a letter written in Marathi, and Saajan responds with his own epistle written in English, enclosed in the empty dabba. Through this serendipitous error, these two strangers build a relationship that develops entirely through the exchange of written and culinary epistles.

Prof. Mannur’s talk asks what productive intimacies might emerge in the spaces through which human error and fallibility fail to secure the kinds of intimacies that the dabbawalla system is designed to broker, and ultimately focuses on reinserting the place of the female in the domestic space in understanding how to think through the narrative of the dabbawalla.

Anita Mannur is Associate Professor of English and Asian/Asian American Studies at Miami University at Oxford, Ohio. Editor in Chief of the Journal of Asian American Studies, her books include Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture, Eating Asian America: A Reader, and Theorizing Diaspora. She is also Director of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Free and Open to the Public, this event is sponsored by the Asian/Asian American Studies Institute. Please contact Cathy.Schlund-Vials@uconn.edu for more information.

Contact:

Cathy Schlund-Vials at cathy.schlund-vials@uconn.edu

Asian American Studies Institute (primary), American Studies, Community Outreach, English Department, Honors Program, Humanities Institute, UConn Master Calendar

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