Eating in Theory

Book Pages: 208 Illustrations: Published: April 2021

Author: Annemarie Mol

Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, Theory and Philosophy

As we taste, chew, swallow, digest, and excrete, our foods transform us, while our eating, in its turn, affects the wider earthly environment. In Eating in Theory Annemarie Mol takes inspiration from these transformative entanglements to rethink what it is to be human. Drawing on fieldwork at food conferences, research labs, health care facilities, restaurants, and her own kitchen table, Mol reassesses the work of authors such as Hannah Arendt, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans Jonas, and Emmanuel Levinas. They celebrated the allegedly unique capability of humans to rise above their immediate bodily needs. Mol, by contrast, appreciates that as humans we share our fleshy substance with other living beings, whom we cultivate, cut into pieces, transport, prepare, and incorporate—and to whom we leave our excesses. This has far-reaching philosophical consequences. Taking human eating seriously suggests a reappraisal of being as transformative, knowing as entangling, doing as dispersed, and relating as a matter of inescapable dependence.


“Its writing limpid, its organization elegant, its argument scintillating, this book is inspirational. And radical. Annemarie Mol effectively unseats the mindset that cannot see past people as thinking and embodied beings. While her address is to questions as they are posed in philosophy, this book will find huge sympathy among those dealing with anthropological materials of all kinds and stages a striking provocation for the general reader who asks whether scholarship can tell us anything new.” — Marilyn Strathern, author of Relations: An Anthropological Account

“In characteristically crisp and inviting prose, Annemarie Mol thinks through eating—its social acts, sensory experiences, and metabolic processes—to re-metabolize the wisdoms so many of us have absorbed about knowing and relating, being and doing, subjectivity and agency. Eating in Theory offers a nourishingly pluralistic vision of humans permeable to their surroundings, interdependent rather than autonomous, and hungry for further thinking. It’s a book to savor.” — Heather Paxson, Professor of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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Price: $24.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Annemarie Mol is Professor of Anthropology of the Body at the University of Amsterdam and the author of The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice, also published by Duke University Press, and The Logic of Care: Health and the Problem of Patient Choice.

Table of Contents Back to Top
1. Empirical Philosophy
2. Being
3. Knowing
4. Doing
5. Relating
6. Intellectual Ingredients
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1141-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1037-1