This article explores the political life of jello, or zheleh, among Basiji Shi‘i families in the contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran. Since the inception of the 1979 Constitution, Islamic laws concerning halal food, drink, and culinary etiquette have been heavily emphasized by state policy makers. This article focuses on jello, a popular gelatin dessert among state supporting Shi‘i families (here members of the Basij, Iran's paramilitary organization), to explore the scope and form of moral and religious foodways in the present-day Islamic Republic. I argue that jello reveals a complex milieu of sparring Western, cosmopolitan, national, and religious food practices that are connected with ideas and practices of (religious) citizenship. This article draws from fifteen months of ethnographic research in Fars Province of Iran and in Tehran, and from research of jurisprudence and popular media.
In a Basiji Kitchen: Halal Jello, Biomorality, and Blessing in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Rose Wellman is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Her research focuses on Islam, food, kinship, and politics in Middle East and its diaspora. Wellman is co-editor of New Directions in Spiritual Kinship: Sacred Ties across the Abrahamic Religions.
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Rose Wellman; In a Basiji Kitchen: Halal Jello, Biomorality, and Blessing in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Gastronomica 1 February 2020; 20 (1): 23–33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2020.20.1.23
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