ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

07 – Towards Collaborative Research on Cereal Cultures in South Asia

Cereals have been domesticated on almost every continent, and their cultivation and consumption have become fundamental components of food cultures around the world.

Convenors

Peter Berger - Institute of Indian studies, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Roland Hardenberg - Frobenius Institute, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany
Sofia Filatova - Groningen Institute of Archaeology, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

Long Abstract

Cereals have been domesticated on almost every continent, and their cultivation and consumption have become fundamental components of food cultures around the world. Various changes in the spectrum of cultivation occurred over time, which had immense impacts on the respective communities. Contemporary choices will likewise influence future human trajectories. Awareness of declining crop diversity and agricultural practices, as well as the impact of climate change, has led to the promotion of nutritionally and environmentally beneficial cereal crops. In India, for example, the FAO-UN has declared 2023 as the “Year of Millets.” How exactly have changing grain preferences affected communities in the past? How does the current promotion of certain grains affect farming communities, their modes of production and consumption? How can we integrate past and current data on cereals to promote food security, food sovereignty, and biodiversity?

The goal of this panel is to understand the complexity of human engagement with cereals (e.g., crop selection, food production, crop competition). To this end, we consider symmetrical collaboration across disciplines and among different stakeholders to be essential. This raises the question of how plant research is influenced by regional or disciplinary traditions and by the multiple interdependencies between humans and cereals. We (anthropologists and archaeobotanists) invite contributions that address the various dimensions of cereal crops in South Asia (past and present) and, in conjunction, may reflect on potentials, challenges, and obstacles to multidirectional collaboration.
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