Call for Papers

In 1978 Susie Orbach declared fat a feminist issue. This slim volume of writing put forward a radical new understanding of feminine embodiment and the gendered psychology of eating. Taking place almost four decades later, this one-day conference will revisit the terrain explored by Orbach and open out new themes of analysis by examining contemporary feminist perspectives on food. Of particular concern are the ways in which food cultures intersect with or map onto broader social rationalities and political programmatics. These issues have been productively pursued in recent analyses of the shift in dieting discourse from a concern with weight to a preoccupation with health (Cairns & Johnston, 2015), alongside the turn to interiority as part of a more general revaluation of domesticity (Dejmanee, 2015). Yet there remains further work to be done here, particularly in light of changing patterns in the cultural landscape of postfeminism (Gill, 2016; McRobbie, 2015).

This event will bring together scholars from across a range of disciplinary locations — sociology, psychology, media and cultural studies, geography and social policy – to address questions such as: What does the continued stigmatisation of fatness and the heightened stylisation of fitness suggest about contemporary formations of femininity? How do new kinds of cultural intermediaries feed existing moral economies of consumer-citizenship? How can we understand the ubiquity of food-related content on social media? What does it mean for food to be so heavily mediated, and what role does media play in stimulating, curtailing, or managing appetites? How can feminist scholarship resist the tendency to moralise dietary practices while addressing inequalities and violences? How do we complicate logics of personal responsibility even as we strive for environmental sustainability? What might a feminist politics of food look like, and what kinds of tools and resources are needed for this?

We are pleased to confirm that Susie Orbach will open the conference with a keynote address. A round table featuring several leading feminist scholars will conclude the day’s discussions (full list of speakers to be confirmed).

Papers are invited on themes including but not limited to:

– Food work

– Aesthetic labour and beauty politics

– Corporeality and digital culture

– Healthism and the medicalisation of everyday life

– Consumption and entrepreneurship

– Bodies of knowledge and knowledge politics

– Dietary regimes and exceptional foodstuffs: ‘5: 2’, ‘clean’, ‘paleo’, ‘superfoods’

– Metrics, quantification, algorithms, apps

– ‘Fitness’ as cultural idiom

– Narcissism and sexual politics

– The economics and politics of austerity

– Hunger

Abstracts of 250 words should be sent to: foodisafeministissue@gmail.com

Please also include a short biographical note (50-100 words) with details of main research interests and current academic affiliation, if any.

Deadline for submissions: 14 April 2017


Header image via Flickr User mistybushell.


Programme now available

10.00-10.15: Welcome

10.15-11.15: Keynote by Susie Orbach

11.15-11.30: Coffee break

11.30-12.45: Panel One – Bodies and Appetites

‘Eat Junk, Look Like Junk’: The Discursive Production of Food in Contemporary Women’s Media, Gemma Cobb

‘Because I Think I’ve Always Just Seen It As, Oh, Women Have Small Appetites That’s Just How It Is’: Feminist Approaches to Eating Disorders, Su Holmes

Towards a Trans Inclusive Corporeal Feminism: Experiences of Disordered Eating Among People of Transgender Experience, Felix McNulty

12.45-1.45: Lunch (catered by El Piano)

1.45-3.00: Panel Two – Consumption and Entrepreneurship

From ‘Cooking in Colour’ to ‘The Great British Bake Off’: Shifting Accounts of Home-Baking and Domesticity, Emma Casey

Gender, Baking and YouTube’s Algorithmic Publics, Sophie Bishop

Appetite for Waste: Postfeminist Femininity, Food Saving and Women Food Social Entrepreneurs, Maud Perrier & Elaine Swan

3.00-3.15: Coffee break

3.15-4.30: Panel Three – Knowledge and Politics

The Food Babe Blogger is Full of Sh*t: Self-Styled Food Experts and Claims to Authority in Postfeminist Media Culture, Heidi Zimmerman

Contemporary Superfood Cults: Nutritionism, Neoliberalism and Gender, Tina Sikka

Local Food will not Dismantle the Master’s House?, Beth W. Kamunge

4.30-4.40: Break

4.40-6.00: Round table with Joanne Hollows, Karen Throsby, Karen Wilkes, Tracey Jensen, and Virginia Braun

Round table speakers announced

We are delighted to announce the round table for this event will include a fantastic line-up of feminist scholars, including:

Dr Joanne Hollows, freelance writer and researcher

Dr Karen Throsby, University of Leeds

Dr Karen Wilkes, Birmingham City University

Dr Shirley Tate, University of Leeds

Dr Tracey Jensen, University of Lancaster