The Psychopolitics of Food probes into the contemporary ‘foodscape’, examining culinary practices and food habits and in particular the ways in which they conflate with neoliberal political economy. It suggests that generic alimentary and culinary practices constitute technologies of the self and the body and argues that the contemporary preoccupation with food takes the form of ‘rites of passage’ that express and mark the transition from a specific stage of neoliberal development to another vis-à-vis a re-configuration of the alimentary and sexual regimes.
Even though these rites of passage are taking place on the borders of cultural bi-polarities, their function, nevertheless, is precisely to define these borders as sites of a neoliberal transitional demand; that is, to produce a cultural bifurcation between ‘eating orders’ and ‘eating dis-orders’, by promoting and naturalising certain social logics while simultaneously rendering others as abject and anachronistic.
The book is a worthwhile read for researchers and advanced scholars in the areas of food studies, critical psychology, anthropology and sociology.
Table of Contents
Table of contents
Introduction: Culinary Rites of Passage in the Neoliberal Age
Chapter 1: From Unemployment to ‘Creative’ Adaptability: Romanticised Chefs and the Psychopolitics of Gastroporn
Chapter 2: From the Semiotic to the Symbolic: Placentophagy and the Name-of- the-Chef
Chapter 3: From Colonialism to Neoliberal Multiculturalism: A Mapuche Spice in the Chilean National Cuisine
Chapter 4: From East to West: Economic Crisis and the Cooking of the New Greeks
Chapter 5: From Eating to Starving: Gastrosexual Men and Anorectic Women
Conclusion: Towards a Theory of Anorectic Cannibalism
Mihalis Mentinis completed this work as part of a postdoctoral research project in the Interdisciplinary Centre for Intercultural Indigenous Studies (ICIIS), at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He now lives and works in Athens, Greece.
'In The Psychopolitics of Food, Mihalis Mentinis offers a thoughtful and original analysis of the contemporary foodscape in relation to neoliberalism. From an extension of the critical analysis of the "celebrity chef" to a consideration of the psychopolitical function of placentophagy, the book is well-grounded in food studies scholarship while extending this work in provocative ways. Its global perspective is particularly welcome as it uses Chile and Greece as informative case studies that interrogate the role of food in these countries’ neoliberal transformations. And the final chapter provides an insightful engagement with anorexia that shifts away from a psycho-pathological approach to one that reads it as a form of culinary resistance to neoliberalism. Overall, the book’s exploration of how culinary rites of passage contribute to neoliberal development is both theoretically rich yet accessible to all readers. It marks an important intervention in the trajectory of food studies scholarship.' – Peter Naccarato, Professor of English & World Literatures, Marymount Manhattan College, USA
'The uniqueness and strength of this thought provoking book is its focus on a very ordinary function in everyday life: eating practices. By focusing on food consumption, Mentinis clearly depicts how neoliberal transformation of our societies does not only affect our lives abstractly somewhere in the "economy" but that it is inextricably intertwined in the restructuring of the very fabric of our daily life practices.' – Athanasios Marvakis, Professor in Clinical Social Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
‘A disturbing book that shows that our cooking culture boom is committed to the transformation of everyday forms of life into a cannibalistic/anorectic form of exploitation. A front-line exercise of grounded and cunning critique of ideology, opening truly new questions and insights for social theory and research, as well as for the lay understanding that the global path to our future is concretely passing through our own culinary/alimentary/sexual regimes.’ – Andrés Haye, Associate Professor and member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile