OFG seminar series – podcasts available now!

Podcasts of the talks by Professors Alan Petersen and Julie Guthman as well as Drs. David Barling, Richard Milne and Michael Guggenheim, that were presented as part of the OFG The Politics and Practices of Food Governance seminar series, are now available online.

OFG seminar series 2012 poster

We hope to make available a podcast of Christel Schaldemose’s talk soon. Professor Annemarie Mol’s talk will be available for Oxford students via WebLearn shortly.

‘Feeding a Better Future’ lecture series – Green Templeton College Oxford, UK

This year’s Green Templeton Lecture Series explored the topic of food, health and nutrition. As part of the annual flagship lecture series the College had invited four eminent speakers – Sir Gordon Conway, Dr. Alex Richardson, Professor Tim Lang and Professor Jeyakumar Henry – to share their ongoing research and insights on the lecture theme of Feeding a Better Future.

GTC lecture

Summaries and podcasts of all four lectures are now available to download from the College website. You can also find the lecture presentations (as pdfs) on the College website.

Sustainable food entrepreneurship

Last week OFG team member Dr. Catherine Dolan commented on the growing interest of Business Schools and MBA students in sustainable food entrepreneurship in the Financial Times.

FT

Catherine also pointed to the rise of academic research on the topic such as the Oxford Food Governance group’s current research project looking at new forms of food activism that often aim to combine welfare and commercial ambitions and are sparked by new information and communication technologies.

If you would like to read the full article, click here.

Call for papers: Taste and the everyday governance of food consumption

Drs. Karin Eli and Tanja Schneider are organising a session on ‘Taste and the Everyday Governance of Food Consumption‘ at the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) conference in San Diego in September 2013.

Call for papers:

From nutrition labels to fair trade symbols, sell-by dates to organic certifications, food packaging privileges particular types of information as the essential ingredients for consumers” everyday decision-making. Yet the complexity of food consumption exceeds the discursive, rational remit of “essential” information. Deeply embodied at every stage of its production, preparation, and consumption, food is not simply the summary of its labeled properties: it is also a matter of taste. This panel aims to explore the positioning and roles of taste in consumers”

Photo courtesy of Serious Eats

Photo courtesy of Serious Eats

decision-making about food. Employing a working multi-dimensional definition of taste that draws on sociological, phenomenological, and biological perspectives, the panel will examine how governance concerns (such as healthy eating and ethical sourcing) influence the ways in which people conceptualize, experience, and deploy taste when making decisions about food consumption. It will interrogate how taste influences different levels of consumption, from the market to the (sometimes metaphoric) dinner table. As a particular focus, the panel will explore the intersection of taste and technology in consumer decision-making, examining how modes of consumption governance may be informed by (the adoption of or resistance to) technological innovations, and seeking to unveil creative ways in which consumers and organizations use information and communication technology, including social media, in developing, sharing, and enacting taste.

Read also (no. 28) >

Please consider submitting an abstract via http://convention2.allacademic.com/one/ssss/4s13/ by 17 March 2013, if you are working in the area of food governance.

Annemarie Mol: Where is the eating body? On situating beyond anatomy

by Karin Eli and Tanja Schneider

In early November we had the great pleasure of welcoming Professor Annemarie Mol, University of Amsterdam, to Oxford, where she gave a talk on Where is the eating body? On situating beyond anatomy, co-hosted by the Politics and Practices of Food Governance seminar series and the Science and Technology Studies group at the University of Oxford.

Professor Annemarie Mol

Professor Annemarie Mol

Thought-provoking as ever, Annemarie Mol challenged us to think about the future of food not through identifying the issues but through deciding how to address them – on which terms and in which terms. She reminded us that issues to do with food frequently get separated out into the natural and the social, which can be problematic if one perspective is used exclusively. Instead Mol proposed to draw out practices in which facts are situated, to explore frictions and contrasts and to pay attention to “modes of ordering” (see Law 1994) related to food governance. Such an analysis – much informed by post-actor network theory in the field of Science and Technology Studies – does not focus on true or false knowledge but enables analysis of different facts, different concerns and different practices.

In her careful analysis of two examples, namely a) how much to eat? and b) what to eat?, Mol took us  through a brief history of nutrition science and the sociology/ anthropology of food and eating, illustrating how we and others involved in producing and consuming food have come to think of what to eat in terms of calories or pleasure and how much to eat in terms of nutrients and satiety; she also highlighted the centrality of energy balance to nutrition science and the similar centrality of supply and demand to food companies in their framings of consumption.

Significantly, Mol focused her discussion of “modes of ordering” on the materiality of food. Questioning boundaries between bodies and foods, Mol challenged us to rethink the ways in which we conceptualize these often taken-for-granted entities. Is the apple separate from the self, or is it part of the body into which it will be incorporated? Are the bodies of farm labourers distinct from those of consumers, or do these boundaries blur through the picking and consumption of the same fruit? Through questioning these boundaries, Mol conveyed the possibilities that emerge when we attend to food as material. “Modes of ordering”, she argued, reveal different (sometimes divergent) visions of this materiality, each focusing on one facet therein; but rather than promote an exclusive reading of one type of ordering, we can explore critically how and why certain facets of materiality gain disciplinary prominence.

Annemarie Mol's talk at the Said Business School

Mol asked us to scrutinise where the modes of ordering are situated, i.e., in which disciplines, in which sites and in relation to which concerns. Returning to her initial question – on which terms to deal with the future of food – she acknowledged that she has no definitive answer but can offer more differentiations and clusters. But what kind of knowledge is this, if it’s not final? Mol offered the term ‘patchwork knowledge’ as food for thought.

Reference:

Law, John (1994) Organizing Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell.

This was the third talk in our seminar series on the Politics and Practices of Food Governance. We will make a recording of this talk available for students at the University of Oxford through WebLearn shortly.