Human bodies eat. But what does this entail? The proposed project will explore how the eating body is shaped in different Western practices. These will include nutritional research and health care clinics, sites that have a far-reaching impact on how we eat. Four related sub-projects will trace the most relevant contrasts: (1) the eating body's health: limiting calorie intake versus maximising satisfaction; (2) the eating body's sensitivity: on tasting in various practices; (3) the eating body and other eaters: on different ways of relating individual and collective; (4) the eating body and its environment: on absorbing food, excreting waste and different bodily boundaries. These four sub-projects will together inform an anthropology of the eating body in Western practices. A fifth sub-project will attend to the eater in theory . Eating may be ubiquitous in practice, but it is strikingly absent from theorising in the Western philosophical tradition. This has profound implications for social science repertoires, which tend to include an actor modelled on the neuromuscular body. This actor sees, hears, moves and manipulates, but does not eat. Drawing on what we learn about the eating body in the empirical parts of the study, the fifth sub-project will model the actor on the eater. Eaters do not observe from a distance, but are mixed up with their surroundings. They do not judge impartially, but appreciate their food as they destroy it. Their metabolic activity, distributed over every cell, does not depend on central control. The theoretical possibilities that follow, will be experimentally explored. Thus the project aims to substantially enrich the Western tradition by feeding it with lessons drawn from its own marginalised experiences.
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