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Hungers that need feeding: On the normativity of mindful nourishment
Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (Science, Technology and Valuation Practices)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8319-0975
2017 (English)In: Anthropology & Medicine, ISSN 1364-8470, E-ISSN 1469-2910, Vol. 24, no 2, p. 159-173Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Drawing on participant observation in a ‘mindful weight loss’ course offered in the Netherlands, this paper explores the normative register through which mindfulness techniques cast people in relation to concerns with overeating and body weight. The women seeking out mindfulness use eating to cope with troubles in their lives and are hindered by a preoccupation with the size of their bodies. Mindfulness coaches aim to help them let go of this ‘struggle with eating’ by posing as the central question: ‘what do I really hunger after?’ The self's hungers include ‘belly hunger’ but also stem from mouths, hearts, heads, noses and eyes. They cannot all be fed by food. The techniques detailed in this paper focus on recognizing and disentangling one's hungers; developing self-knowledge of and a sensitivity to what ‘feeds’ one's life; and the way one positions oneself in relation to oneself and the world. While introducing new norms, the course configures ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ in different ways altogether, shaping the worlds people come to inhabit through engaging in self-care. In particular, the hungering body is foregrounded as the medium through which life is lived. Taking a material semiotic approach, this paper makes an intervention by articulating the normative register of nourishment in contrast to normalization. Thus, it highlights anthropologists’ potential strengthening of different ways of doing normativity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2017. Vol. 24, no 2, p. 159-173
Keywords [en]
mindfulness, obesity, self-care, material semiotics, normalization
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-147696DOI: 10.1080/13648470.2016.1276322ISI: 000410835800004PubMedID: 28504592Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85019269511OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-147696DiVA, id: diva2:1204078
Available from: 2018-05-06 Created: 2018-05-06 Last updated: 2018-05-09Bibliographically approved

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Vogel, Else

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf