This panel interrogates and aims to rethink common understandings of obesity. It invites papers on a broad range of topics related to obesity, focusing on people's embodied experiences, discursive framings and socio-material practices.
Obesity, as it is predominantly framed, is a rapidly growing societal challenge that not only causes individual suffering but also burdens national health care costs and work productivity. This framing weighs heavily on scientific models and health policies in which obesity is linked to a set of assumptions that coalesce around the concept of energy balance and individual responsibility and lifestyle. In line with recent ethnographic studies that stress social, cultural, moral, practical and political dimensions of obesity, this panel interrogates and aims to rethink such common understandings of obesity's aetiology, causes, consequences and solutions. The panel thus invites papers on a broad range of topics: Bio-medicalization and health; science definitions and conceptions; bodies and selves; dieting, weight loss practices and surgery; stigmatization and class/gender issues. Crucially, it wants to investigate the moral and normative issues related to obesity as these emerge in people's embodied experiences, discursive framings and socio-material practices. Analyses that move beyond an individualized health perspective are thus encouraged, especially studies of identity processes and care practices. Furthermore, this panel invites papers on interdisciplinary approaches to the study of obesity and experiences with collaborative obesity research projects. Another main aim of the panel is to provide a platform for identifying future networks across European academic institutions and to discuss potentials of anthropological research on obesity and food/health related practices.