[INDOLOGY] Fwd: New Book on Food Culture in Mumbai

Whitney Cox wc3 at soas.ac.uk
Fri May 3 15:05:29 UTC 2013

I forward this to the list not only owing to its subject matter--perhaps of
interest to several members--but also for its publication model, in light
of the recent discussions of Open Access publishing.  This is the first
contact I've ever had from this publisher, and I know nothing about the
author or her work: caveat lector.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Open Book Publishers <general at openbookpublishers.com>
Date: 1 May 2013 08:46
Subject: New Book on Food Culture in Mumbai
To: wc3 at soas.ac.uk

 Dear Dr. Cox,

Open Book Publishers, a Cambridge-based non-profit publisher, is currently
running a campaign to make our new book, *Feeding the City: Work and Food
Culture of the Mumbai Dabbawalas* by Sara Roncaglia (details below) freely
available to all.  *Feeding the City* is an ethnographic study of the
fascinating inner workings of Mumbai’s dabbawalas, and I am contacting you
as I thought the book and campaign might be of interest to you.  If it is,
I hope that you might be willing to raise its profile by spreading the word
among your colleagues.

We are seeking funding for this publication through a crowd-sourcing
website called unglue.it, which enables people to pledge anything from $1
upwards to help make this book freely available to all.  You can view our
campaign here:


Last summer we made *Oral Literature in Africa* by Ruth Finnegan available
for free forever, with donations from supporters reaching our target of
$7,500 in only a few weeks.  Since that book was published just over 7
months ago the free on-line edition has received over 7,000 visitors and
the free e-book has been downloaded over 4,000 times, with the work being
accessed more in Africa than on any other continent.

This spring we are hoping to have a similar impact with this new work on
the dabbawalas in Mumbai which, if our campaign is successful, will be both
free to read on-line and free to download in digital e-book formats,
particularly to people in India.  Our campaign is already well underway –
to date 59 people have pledged over $1,700 – but as we enter our final
month of fundraising we are still looking to raise the profile of this
book, and of our campaign to finance a freely-available edition.

We would love your support and assistance with spreading the word.  Further
details of Sara’s book are below, and if you would like any further
information about the book, the campaign, or how you can help, please don’t
hesitate to get in touch

Best wishes,


Every day in Mumbai 5,000 dabbawalas distribute a staggering 200,000
home-cooked lunchboxes to the city's workers and students. Giving
employment and status to thousands of largely illiterate villagers from
Mumbai's hinterland, this co-operative has been in operation since the late
nineteenth century. It provides one of the most efficient delivery networks
in the world: only one lunch in six million goes astray.

Cultural anthropologist Sara Roncaglia explains how they cater to the
various dietary requirements of a diverse and increasingly global city,
where the preparation and consumption of food is pervaded with religious
and cultural significance. Developing the idea of "gastrosemantics" - a
language with which to discuss the broader implications of cooking and
eating - Roncaglia's study helps us to rethink our relationship to food at
a local and global level. *Feeding the City*was originally published in
Italian and we have translated, revised and updated it.


Dr. Whitney Cox
Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit
Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia,
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

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