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The Taj Mahal in the High Street: The Indian Restaurant as Diasporic Popular Culture in Britain

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Abstract:

This paper takes the British high street South Asian or "Indian" restaurant as an example of diasporic popular culture. It traces the historical emergence of the Indian restaurant as a popular form, through the early nineteenth-century to the present. Alongside the emergence of a thriving diasporic restaurant culture the paper also examines the way that South Asian food culture has been represented in recipe books and food guides. Arguing that popular culture is never pure, authentic or separable from an interlacing network of power and domination, the paper situates the Indian restaurant within a dynamic neocolonial culture. However, the Indian restaurant is also an agent in this culture, and thrives due to the ingenuity, resilience and tenacity of a diasporic community.

Keywords: AUTHENTICITY; BRITISH INDIAN FOOD; POPULAR CULTURE; SOCIAL HISTORY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175174409X400729

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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