Rice and Sugar: Conversations about Diabetes in Southern India — Dr. Haripriya Narasimhan

Conversations about diabetes have become widely prevalent in everyday discourse in middle class, urban India. Based on an ethnographic study, this talk goes beyond this discourse to unpack how diabetes is understood and evaluated by those diagnosed with the condition. Interviews with diabetics’ in clinics in Chennai, Tamilnadu, highlight the crucial role that the diet regimen suggested by health care practitioners occupies in understanding diabetes. Rice’ emerges as much more than a staple food’ and stands in as both the culprit and the victim. This talk will explore this circular conundrum and elaborate why it is important for all those interested in tackling diabetes in India to pay attention to such food talk’. 

About the Speaker: 

Dr. Haripriya Narasimhan is Associate professor at the Department of Liberal Arts, at IIT Hyderabad. She is an anthropologist. She received a PhD from Syracuse University, USA, in 2006. Her PhD topic was Our health is in our hands’: Women making decisions about health care in Tamilnadu, South India.’ Dr. Haripriya was a Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK (LSE) from 2003 – 2010. She has published widely on issues of caste, gender, and health. Her book, co-authored with C.J.Fuller, Emeritus Professor, LSE, and published by University of Chicago Press, is titled Tamil Brahmans: The making of a middle class caste’. Her research interests are in medical anthropology, media, and more recently, sustainability. Dr. Haripriya is engaged in two research projects- one on diabetes in Tamilnadu (funded by Wellcome Trust UK) and another on Hindi TV serials.