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
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 Citywas originally published in Italian and we have translated, revised and updated it.