Lectures

Who feeds (on) whom? Labour and the porosity of environments and bodies

Hannah Landecker writes about the new metabolism as “a model in which food enters the body and in a sense never leaves it, because food transforms the organism’s being as much as the organism transforms it” (2011: 177). Articulating Landecker’s insights into the porosity of bodies through an anthropological lens, Harris Solomon (2016) offers an ethnography of absorption in the …

Lectures

Gloves, embryos, and DDT: thinking with surfaces on toxicity in South Africa

In the early 1980s, researchers at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa were confounded by the persistent failure of their experimental mice embryos. The researchers had hoped to develop the first successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) programme in Africa. Yet, attempt after attempt, the mice embryos died. One researcher recounted to me later that he reviewed other protocols and …

Lectures

Eating in Class: Notes on Nourishment and Decolonial Pedagogy

It’s a common adage, following Lévi-Strauss, that “food is good to think with.” A class assignment that includes food-centred ethnographic presentations expands the scope of such thinking into embodied and institutional memory. Below I describe such a class feast prepared by second-year social anthropology students at Sol Plaatje University in 2019 (one of two post-Apartheid South African Universities). The idea …

FeaturesLectures

Provincializing Metabolism (On the Poverty of Modernism)

According to accepted wisdom and textbooks, “metabolism” is a nineteenth-century term and concept, established at the confluence of organic chemistry, cell biology, and physiology. In Microscopical Researches (1839), Schwann spoke of the “metabolic phenomena of the cells,” using for the first time the adjective metabolische, from which “metabolic” entered the English language in the 1847 translation (Bing 1971). This standard …

FeaturesLectures

Decentering Metabolism: Peripheral and Southern Diffractions

In the last few years, a renewed interest in metabolic exchange, and in ideas of a porous and permeable body, has come from disciplines like microbiomics, nutrigenomics, and epigenetics. Moreover, a number of technological changes from food manufacturing to different body/technology interfaces have brought to light conceptions of a “new metabolism” offering “a window onto profound changes to the material and conceptual constitution of …

BooksFeatures

Book Forum––Harris Solomon’s Metabolic Living: Food, Fat and The Absorption of Illness in India

This article is part of the series:

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Harris Solomon’s Metabolic Living traces patterns of consumption, calories, and chronic disease to tell a story about the enfolding––the absorption and regulation––of food in and about the body in Mumbai. Solomon’s book is a powerful ethnographic reflection on how factors held as exterior (local and global cuisine, evolving and competing norms regarding eating and body image) are wholly interiorized. …