Louise Spieker Rankin's Global Souths: An American Cookbook for India and Culinary Imperialism


JOURNAL OF SOCIAL HISTORY, vol.54, no.4, pp.1188-1212, 2021 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 54 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/jsh/shaa024
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, American History and Life, ATLA Religion Database, Child Development & Adolescent Studies, Gender Studies Database, Historical Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Religion and Philosophy Collection, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1188-1212
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


In 1933, Louise Spieker Rankin published the first edition of An American Cookbook for India, a recipe and household manual for American women who, like herself, found themselves living as expatriates in India with little or no prior knowledge of domestic life in subcontinental Asia. While Rankin's cookbook builds upon the preexisting body of Anglo-Indian colonial cookbooks produced by the women of the British Raj, what renders the second edition of An American Cookbook for India (published in 1944) worthy of examination is how it connects one global south-Rankin's homeland of the American South-to another, South Asia. In Rankin's network of global souths, the troubling legacy of American slavery and domestic servitude by people of color are superimposed onto India through an extension of U.S. imperialism-in this case, through a complicated form of culinary imperialism in which male Indian cooks continue the work of the "mammies" of the "Old South" by replicating nostalgic southern recipes and perpetuating white supremacy. As I contend, a significant part of this gendered, racist, imperialist project is also the elision, or at best selective representation, of two wars-the American Civil War and World War II-which are eclipsed by the mythmaking that accompanies An American Cookbook for India.