HISTORIES OF CONSUMPTION - CONCOCTING COFFEE AS POPULAR CULTURE

HISTORIES OF CONSUMPTION - CONCOCTING COFFEE AS POPULAR CULTURE

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HISTORIES OF CONSUMPTION: CONCOCTING COFFEE AS POPULAR CULTURE

  
Gargi Bhattacharya
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HISTORIES OF CONSUMPTION:


CONCOCTING COFFEE AS POPULAR CULTURE

 

Gargi Bhattacharya

 

ONLY AVAILABLE ON IDEAINDIA.COM

**** E-ARTICLES FOR DOWNLOAD ****

E-ARTICLE Size: 202 KB; 22 pages; US$ 2

© Gargi Bhattacharya 2009

 

           
The sociological imagination necessitates, above all, being able to ‘think ourselves away’ from the familiar routines of our daily lives in order to look at them anew. Consider the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee. What would we find, say, from a sociological point of view, about such an uninteresting piece of behaviour? The answer is – an enormous amount. - Anthony Giddens, Sociology, p. 20

Coffee drinking is not an activity that is anointed with any tinge of forbidden pleasure, or any twinge of guilt. It does not associate itself with the so-called ‘immoral’ severities of alcohol, nor the precipitous ‘high’ that is the doper’s delight. Shorn off the privileges of prohibition, coffee is pre-eminently permissible in all circles of intimacy.

But, the question remains, was it always so? There might have been a time when coffee drinking would not have been such a simple, quotidian affair, followed like a morning ritual globally. In fact, it seems that though ‘coffee’ itself has been known and enjoyed for more than a thousand odd years across the continents, ‘coffee-drinking’, as we know it now, is, like the rise of the novel and nation states, a sign of the modern. The changes in the patterns of production, distribution and consumption of coffee may well chart the social and economic progress of a civilization, since coffee has not only been historically correlated with the (mal)practices of imperialism, but also, in the modern context, been one of the most profitable cash crops bringing in export-currency for the ‘third-world’ nations of Asia and Latin America.

This e-article is a critical engagement with that very historicity that creams our favourite cup of coffee, and the way it has entrenched itself in the popular imagination. It is an academic endeavour to chart the incursion of coffee into the popular cultural practices of each successive generation with increasing vigour, and created a niche for itself in the social landscape, disseminating itself in a myriad of dissembling garbs, each pandering to the taste of the customer in question. To that extent, coffee becomes the most dissimulating drink to delight the senses of people all over the world. Finally, it will look at the way coffee functions as a metaphor at various social and economic levels and has therefore given rise to a completely new and ingenious range of signifying practices that has become an inextricable part of modern mythology.

 

Gargi Bhattacharya: Pursuing Master of Philosophy (M. Phil.) in English, first year, in Jawaharlal Nehru University, after successfully completing M.A. in English in the same University and being ranked first. Variously employed in the capacity of ad-hoc lecturer in Shivaji College as also guest lecturer in Motilal Nehru College and P.G.D.A.V. College, all affiliated to Delhi University. Employed in the capacity of Production Editor in the prestigious SAGE Publications, New Delhi. M.A. in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University and B.A. in English from St.Xavier`s College, Kolkata. She has a particular interest in Critical Theory, Indian Writings in English, Folk Literature and Film Studies.

 

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