Hayden S. Kantor

I am a Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University.

I received my Ph.D. from Cornell University’s Department of Anthropology. As a sociocultural anthropologist, my research concerns capitalism, food, and ethics of care in South Asia.

E-mail: hkantor@stanford.edu


Food, Farming, and the Caring Family in Bihar, India

What does it mean to care and be cared for under conditions of chronic economic insecurity? My book project considers how rural families grappling with precarious agrarian livelihoods articulate an ethics of care. Given Bihar’s history of food insecurity, I examine care primarily in terms of food practices—the daily work of farming, cooking, and commensal eating that sustains the family. These practices also entails multiple forms of care directed at non-human others: animals, crops, foods, land, and gods. I explore these relations at a moment when economic liberalization and mounting environmental risks have rendered agrarian life tenuous, fueling urban migration and reconfiguring kinship and caste relations in the village.

This project challenges the surplus/scarcity dichotomy that often frames scholarship on food insecurity and the global food economy. My ethnography complicates this binary by attending to the quotidien appetites, labors, and vulnerabilities of particular gendered and classed bodies, thus illuminating the intimate ways that people experience larger political economic formations. I argue that sensations of poverty and abundance, pleasure and dissatisfaction, coexist in a single community, household, and even a single person. Even amidst austerity, their food practices reveal how Biharis care for their families and refuse the logics of scarcity that govern their lives.

The Wenner-Gren Foundation and the American Institute for Indian Studies funded 16 months of archival and ethnographic research. My dissertation was awarded Cornell’s Guildford Essay Prize in 2016, a university-wide award “given to the doctoral student in any field whose thesis is judged to display the highest excellence in English prose.”


  • South Asian History and Culture (2016): “‘A Dead Letter of the Statute Book:’ The Strange Bureaucratic Life of The Bihar Food Economy and Guest Control Order, 1950-1954”
  • American Anthropologist (2018): “Building Beyond the Bypass Road: Urban Migration, Ritual Eating, and the Fate of the Joint Family in Patna, India”
  • Food, Culture & Society (2019): “A Body Set Between Hot and Cold: Everyday Sensory Labor and Attunement in an Indian Village” — published in
  • Anthropology of Work Review (2020): “Locating the Farmer: Ideologies of Agricultural Labor in Bihar, India”
  • Moveable Gardens: Itineraries and Sanctuaries of Memory (2021): “People and Food in Motion: Agricultural Dislocations and Culinary Remembrances in Bihar, India”

PDFs are available on my academia.edu page.


At Stanford, I teach writing courses in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric. I also tutor graduate and undergraduate students in the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking.

My PWR 1 course, “Food Values: The Rhetoric of What and How We Eat,” prompts students to consider how the multiple ways that what we eat expresses what we value. My PWR 2 course, “Think Global: The Rhetoric of Global Citizenship,” invites students to explore the meaning of global citizenship and how they might relate their own education to pressing global questions. In both courses, students develop their writing skills by undertaking a research project on the topic of their choice.

In spring 2024, I will teach PWR 91HK, “Farmer, Scientist, Activist, Chef: Communicating for Food Security and Food Justice.” This is a project-based course where students will work with a community partner to create public-facing materials in support of their mission.


I work as a coach and editor for writers at all levels and in all disciplines, including faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and college applicants. I have coached several Stanford professors on their writing. I work with writers at all stages of a project, encompassing everything from the initial brainstorming stage to drafts to the final copyedits.


  • Admissions essays: I provide feedback on applications for everything from kindergarten to college to graduate school, including law school, business school, and medical school.
  • Job applications: I guide job applicants with cover letters, CVs, and resumes.
  • Developmental editor: I help writers working on book projects and articles think through the research design, framing, and the alignment between argument and evidence.
  • Copyeditor: I edit academic articles, grant proposals, CVs, bibliographies, etc.
  • Writing coach: I help writers plan their work, assess their writing practice, and strategize how to overcome internal and external obstacles.
  • Tutoring: I tutor undergraduate and graduate students on their writing assignments for courses in all disciplines.

Availability: I work with clients both remotely on Zoom or in person at Stanford.

Rates: $100 – $200 per hour, depending on the project. Expedited services are also for an extra fee.

Finding the right fit for your project is important. The first step is to reach out to set up a free consultation where we discuss the project scope and expectations.

Copyright © 2022 Hayden S. Kantor