Bioethics Blogs

Alimentary Uncertainties: From Contested Evidence to Policy — A special issue of BioSocieities by Aaron Seaman

The June 2015 issue of BioSocieties is a special issue guest edited by Emilia Sanabria and Emily Yates-Doerr, entitled “Alimentary uncertainties: From contested evidence to policy.” The issue comprises, in addition to the introduction, seven articles and two responding commentaries (links and titles/abstracts below). As Sanabria and Yates-Doerr write in their eponymous introduction

This special issue examines specific uncertainties raised by the feedbacks between the production of evidence and the making of policy in the domain of the alimentary sciences. We employ the term ‘aliment’ – that which nourishes the body – to reinvigorate a valuable but underutilized concept, enriching the vocabulary with which to address the recent proliferation of scientific examinations of the relation between food and health. Much of the existing literature is focused on the United States, showing how popular American discourses of nutrition have produced ‘hegemonic nutrition’ – a form of nutrition that deploys a language of science to standardize food/body relationships, disregarding the cultural contexts in which food is eaten (Hayes-Conroy and Hayes-Conroy, 2013). This collection departs from academic critique of the moral injunctions around food and health. Disease is doubtlessly produced when intimate acts of eating become the object of normative discourses, but the seven articles collected here suggest that if nutrition has hegemonic force, it is also a fractured, contingent field fraught with ambiguity and instability. If ‘modern nutrition’ has been quintessentially American in its ideals (cf. Guthman, 2014), we illustrate how scientific interest in the relation between food and health takes shape in Guatemala, South Africa, India, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and France.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.