Mumbai Day 2: University of Mumbai visit and presentations

Today I visited the Department of Sociology at the University of Mumbai. It is India’s oldest sociology department and (Prof) Vivek
who is collaborating here with me on the research is perhaps the only other sociologist around (anywhere in fact) that has researched spitting in any meaningful way. Here is Vivek beneath the departmental sign.


One of the aims of giving lectures/presentations on the trip is to present my thoughts and ideas around public spitting and to get considered feedback from others that have first-hand experience of it in their respective context/s and to receive feedback on these ideas in development. I gave a presentation initially to the Sociology Department staff and then to postgraduate students. Both presentations were well received and resulted in long discussions and reflection on the topic. I am grateful for the hospitality of the University. In two days time I will again give a lecture but this time to an interdisciplinary group of senior university staff.

Some key issues that came up were: spitting paan (and generally) is also socially/culturally circumscribed in the sense that there are numerous cases where an individual would not spit in the presence of the head of the family, or another authority figure out of respect (authority respect being an important social etiquette in India) but, that e.g. elder may well reasonably spit in front of those younger/of less authority; paan is now present in many ceremonies and events and is almost ubiquitous at wedding ceremonies and at these settings is a show of success. As such the spitting of paan is also prevalent in such settings


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