A Brief Excurses Into Food and Travel: Writing Leisure in the Postcolony
Panel:20 | Leisure and Forms of Resistance to Labour in Modern and Contemporary South Asian Literature
Timeslot:07/28 | 17:50-18:10 UTC+2/CEST
Although leisure is understood as a distinguishable break from work, Henri Lefebvre’s counterintuitive claim that “leisure gives rise to an undifferentiated global activity which is difficult to distinguish from other aspects of life” forces us to reckon with a perspective that leisure mimics work, in that is not a necessary, passive distraction but an active condition produced by the very regime of work. Leisure must, he argues “break with the everyday”, cause a rupture which produces feelings of pleasure and repose that must “compensate with the difficulties of everyday life.” For Lefebvre, the need for leisure indicates alienation from work, yet, one of the many questions we need to ask is how does leisure transform when contemporary work cultures aim to incorporate “breaks” into the workday.
In my paper, I re-examine the idea of leisure as a break from work. I argue that certain activities such as cooking or working with food, and travel carry the promise of an epiphany, or present an illusion of escape and truly break with the drudgery of gender roles, or the confining nature of provincial existence. Yet, these epiphanies are absorbed into the workday, and only offer momentary pleasure. In my paper I argue that these moments of reflection and pause, wherein time slows down and one feels liberated have political significance and are subversive. In order to make this argument I locate such subversive moments embedded in the fabric of the everyday in two acts: that of cooking and travel. To support my argument I look at the way in which cooking and travel are represented in two decades of Indian English writing spanning the late nineties until 2015.