Manpreet K. Janeja's picture
Affiliated Fellow
Manpreet K. Janeja

As a socio-cultural anthropologist, my work so far has focused on three major concerns that straddle the ‘public’ and ‘private’ domains: (1) normality/not-normality; (2) trust/mistrust/distrust; (3) waiting. Through the lens of ethnographic field studies of food in three mega-cities in the Global North (Europe) and Global South (South Asia), these three research clusters have facilitated engagement with issues ranging from migrations, borders, globalisation, social change and conflict to gender, urban publics, hunger, bureaucracy, and temporality. This has resulted so far in the publication of: the monograph Transactions in Taste: the Collaborative Lives of Everyday Bengali Food (2010; paperback 2013), the co-edited volumes Imagining Bangladesh: Contested Narratives (2014), and Ethnographies of Waiting: Doubt, Hope, and Uncertainty (2018), together with articles, book chapters, and several international conference and seminar papers, panels, presentations, and public lectures.   

While at the IIAS, I will be working on my current book - The Aesthetics of School Meals: (Dis)trust, Risk, and Uncertainty (under contract) – grounded in long-term ethnographic fieldwork in England. This book examines the intriguing puzzle of (dis)trust: how and why we (dis)trust whom (and what), and the ways in which we continue to engage with this, the multiplicity, instability, and ambivalence of these processes notwithstanding. It unpacks the dynamics of (dis)trust to offer insights into the recursive, reversible, and emergent processes of the making, unmaking, and remaking of trust, mistrust and distrust as a way to live everyday lives creatively. It does so through a focused urban ethnography of the anxious everyday engagements of Muslim and Hindu immigrants of South Asian origin in England with ‘healthy’ school meals as entangled in wider historical and variegated networks. In so doing, it reveals the ways in which such negotiations of trusting and not-trusting have implications for configurations of ‘public health’ and multiculturalism’, amidst calls to rethink ‘cultural diversity’ and forms of ‘integration’ against the backdrop of rising instability in Europe.


  • Anthropology of Food and Eating
  • (Dis)Trust and Mistrust
  • Gender Youth Diversity
  • Mobilities and Migrations
  • Religion (Hinduism and Islam)
  • Urban Studies and Urban Ethnography
  • South Asia and Europe

Country of origin


Period of stay at IIAS

01/10/2017 to 31/07/2018

Research topic

The Aesthetics of School Meals: (Dis)Trust, Risk, and Uncertainty

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