9th Annual Weight Stigma Conference

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London, UK: Seminar 22nd October

The following seminar may be of interest to some.


The British Sociological Association Food Study Group & the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), UCL Institute of Education, will be delighted to welcome staff and students to this lunchtime seminar. Please note this is a special seminar outside of the usual TCRU Tuesday lunchtime schedule.

Name: Megan Warin

Title: Fleshing out fat: materialisations of fatness in a disadvantaged Australian suburb

Date and time: Thursday 22nd October, 1-2pm TCRU Library, 27/28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA

Summary: Foregrounding the material properties and agentive capacities of fat, this paper explores experiences of expanding, maintaining or diminishing body sizes to give substance to the different enactments of fat. Drawing on fieldwork in an underprivileged community in South Australia that is represented as ‘obesogenic’, I detail how bodies become fat and what fat can do for bodies. In places of situational poverty I argue that fat can be characterized as enhancing wellbeing and as a material resource that acts to safeguard or augment bodily survival.  This paper thus moves away from representational accounts of fat, and builds upon ontological and new materialist explorations of bodies (Colls 2007; Bennett 2010; Warin et al. 2015), focusing on ‘embodied topographies’ and agentive capacities of corpulence.  Extending the question of what fat does to ethnographic accounts of bodies, I ‘flesh out fat’, its multiplicities and inconsistencies, to demonstrate how the productive potential of fat  ̶  to express health, ‘to get stuff’, to ‘protect’ oneself or repel others  ̶  materializes in and from bodies. Such understanding is important for broadening how we conceptualise fat – of how fat intertwines with other humans and things – and challenging current obesity prevention programs that engage in what Mol (2002) refers to as ‘ontological singularity’ – in which fat is seen as simply a substance to be restricted.

Megan Warin is a social anthropologist and Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide.  She is currently an Australia Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow and her research interests span theories of embodiment and new materialisms, intersections of class and gender in experiences of obesity, public understanding of obesity science (epigenetics and developmental origins of health and disease), and desire and denial in eating disorders. Recent publications include: (2015) Short horizons and obesity futures: Disjunctures between public health interventions and everyday temporalities.  Social Science & Medicine. 128:309-15; (2015) Epigenetics and Obesity: The Reproduction of Habitus through Intracellular and Social Environments. Body & Society (doi: 10.1177/1357034X15590485; (2014) Material feminism, obesity science and the limits of discursive critique. Body &Society (doi: 10.1177/1357034X14537320).

For any queries and to register your attendance please email: tcru@ioe.ac.uk

This event has been made possible with the financial support of the British Sociological Association Food Study Group and the voluntary assistance of its members. The BSA exists to promote Sociology. We are also grateful for the support of TCRU in hosting this seminar

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