The Perils of Food Politics
Publication Year: 2013
Debates about obesity are really about the meaning of responsibility. The trend toward local foods reflects the changing nature of space due to new communication technologies. Vegetarian theory capitalizes on biotechnology’s challenge to the meaning of species. And food politics, as this book makes powerfully clear, is actually about the political anxieties surrounding globalization.
In Eating Anxiety, Chad Lavin argues that our culture’s obsession with diet, obesity, meat, and local foods enacts ideological and biopolitical responses to perceived threats to both individual and national sovereignty. Using the occasion of eating to examine assumptions about identity, objectivity, and sovereignty that underwrite so much political order, Lavin explains how food functions to help structure popular and philosophical understandings of the world and the place of humans within it. He introduces the concept of digestive subjectivity and shows how this offers valuable resources for rethinking cherished political ideals surrounding knowledge, democracy, and power.
Exploring discourses of food politics, Eating Anxiety links the concerns of food—especially issues of sustainability, public health, and inequality—to the evolution of the world order and the possibilities for democratic rule. It forces us to question the significance of consumerist politics and—simultaneously—the relationship between politics and ethics, public and private.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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I started writing this book in the fall of 2005, soon after a hurricane and a shameful display of political neglect sent me fl eeing from Louisiana to Texas to Pennsylvania, fortunate enough to fi nd helpful friends, fam-ily, and strangers at each step along the way. I fi nished writing six years later, fi ve days before the birth of my son. These events do more than ...
INTRODUCTION: Food Politics in the Twilight of Sovereignty
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...vasive issues in political struggle, popular entertainment, and humanist scholarship. Politically, the media warns of a global food crisis owing to rapidly rising prices and drought- induced shortages, even as the de-veloped world faces a mounting public health threat stemming from widespread overeating and continues to redirect so much grain toward ...
CHAPTER 1: DIET AND AMERICAN IDEOLOGY
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...eignty is with the discourse of diet, where food and control converge in an ideological matrix of individual responsibility, self- mastery, and population management. Studies of famines or agricultural labor can re-veal some of the ways that the production, distribution, and regulation of food manifest political power at the level of the individual body. But ...
CHAPTER 2: EATING ALONE
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...couched in the individualistic language of choice and self- control, characterizations of food as a private or personal issue stand in stark contrast with the anthropological and sociological literatures on the role of food in establishing regional or national culture. Food historian Margaret Visser notes this paradox, and the tendency of food to con-...
CHAPTER 3: THE DIGESTIVE TURN IN POLITICAL THOUGHT
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...of the self developed in the seventeenth century rejected the organic vocabulary of a body politic for a sterile and hygienic model of social engagement organized around ideals of identity and authenticity, politi-cal thought turned positively bilious in the nineteenth century. Starting with Hegel’s and Marx’s concerns about alienation and coming to its ...
CHAPTER 4: RESPONSIBILITY AND DISEASE IN OBESITY POLITICS
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...restricted to readers of Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche. When First Lady Mi-chelle Obama launched a national campaign to fi ght childhood obesity in 2009, she tapped into widespread American anxieties not only about individual health and national security but also the degree to which individual habits and desires are manipulated by industrial food and ...
CHAPTER 5: THE YEAR OF EATING POLITICALLY
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...agricultural act,”1 and recent trends in food activism have announced that eating is a political, economic, environmental, aesthetic, and ethi-cal act as well. While the obesity debates enact demands for individual responsibility and public health and so stand out as a marker of the cul-tural politics of blame, approaches to the political economy of food in ...
CHAPTER 6: THE MEAT WE DON’T EAT
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...previous two chapters reveal a series of anxieties over individual and national sovereignty stemming from the economic, technological, and political transformations of globalization. In particular, the debates re-veal concerns about a powerlessness of individuals to control the shape of their lives and challenges to the institution of national sovereignty that ...
CONCLUSION: Democracy and Disgust
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...courses of obesity, local foods, and meat have responded to political anxieties endemic to the disruptions of globalization. Those disruptions were identifi ed as disruptions to ideals of self (in particular, ideals of identity, authenticity, and responsibility characteristic of modern liber-alism), space (especially the divisions between public and private and ...
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...1 Elspeth Probyn, Carnal Appetites: FoodSexIdentities (New York: Routledge, 2000).2 Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New 3 Wendell Berry, What Are People For? (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990), 145.4 Michael Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma; Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All- American Mean (Boston: Houghton Miffl in, 2001); Barbara King-...
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About the Author
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...chad lavin is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural The Politics of Responsibility and essays in social and political theory.ump-lavin-book.indb 213ump-lavin-book.indb 213 1/30/13 7:30 AM1/30/13 7:30 AM...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013