Magazine article Times Higher Education

Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics: Books

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics: Books

Article excerpt

Eating Anxiety: The Perils of Food Politics. By Chad Lavin. University of Minnesota Press. 240pp, Pounds 50.50 and Pounds 17.00. ISBN 9780816680917 and 80924. Published 1 April 2013

Academic work on food and eating is often insufficiently political, even when it invokes the term "food politics". By contrast, Eating Anxiety is a thoroughly political book. Exploring contemporary and historical discourses of food, eating and diet, Chad Lavin introduces the concept of "digestive subjectivity" in order to rethink the politics of consumerism and public health, understandings of political identity, the operation of political power and the processes and ideologies associated with modernity, democracy and globalisation.

Food, as Lavin notes, "is rarely only food". Rather, what we eat and how we eat is contested. Food is political in a number of ways. At one level, a range of anxieties are associated with the food we eat - we are threatened by the presence of pesticides, trans fats, salt and super-sized portions. As a result, consumers require protection from corporations and also from themselves via political intervention. Equally politicised is the production of food within networks of globalised agribusiness, production that undermines the regionalism of diet and the link between diet and national identity. Whoever and wherever we are, as a current advertising campaign reminds us, "we all have McDonald's in common". Third, what is eaten is also political. The issue of meat production raises questions about our relationships with the animals we eat and the ways we breed, grow and kill them for food. It has also been bound up with debates on climate change and other issues in global environmental politics; and in questions of justice for food-impoverished populations in regions of the global South.

Particularly important for Lavin, however, are the less obvious ways in which food is politically constituted by what Michel Foucault called "biopolitics". Discourses of food, past and present, "participate in a novel technology of population management". Lavin suggests that the discourses of food at the start of the 21st century in particular are part of general political trends associated with neoliberal order: heightened surveillance, individual responsibility and the generation of property rights. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.