Vitalities and Visceralities: Alternative Body/Food Politics in New Digital Media
Alternative Food Politics: From the Margins to the Mainstream, edited by Michelle Phillipov and Katherine Kirkwood. Routledge, London, Forthcoming
16 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2017 Last revised: 23 Oct 2017
Date Written: July 24, 2017
This chapter addresses the use of social media platforms and digital visual media (selfies, hashtags, videos, GIFs and memes) in micro-political and macro-political engagements related to food and embodiment. The analysis has its theoretical foundation in feminist material perspectives, particularly the scholarship of Haraway, Barad, Bennett and Braidotti. I identify the agentive capacities, affects and vitalities generated in and through the body/food assemblages configured in these new media. These do not all work in progressive political ways, however. Digital media body/food assemblages tend to represent idealised bodies as those that are highly contained and controlled, privileging disciplined, ‘clean’ and healthy eating, ethical food choices, and lean, physically fit bodies. Uncontained, out-of-control bodies and appetites, and choices such as meat-eating, are typically positioned as disgusting, repellent and morally and ethically inferior. This mode of representation is taken to its extreme in pro-anorexia and vegetarian/vegan social media engagements. At the same time, however, many digital media assemblages acknowledge and celebrate the carnivalesque and transgressive power of carnal and visceral appetites, often as a direct political resistance to ideals of fleshly and sensual containment. These portrayals are sometimes underpinned with disturbing gendered representations, in which men are depicted as aggressive meat eaters and animals and women as objects for men’s carnal appetites.
Keywords: food, digital media, social media, visual media, politics, feminist materialism
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