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Annemarie Mol: What is Valuing?

Empirical-philosophical explorations of 'goods' to do with 'foods'

Public lecture by Prof. Annemarie Mol (University of Amsterdam)
organized by the Dep of Practical Philosophy

Philosophy seeks to address normative questions. In the process, it distributes norms over different domains and repertoires. Thus it has helped to establisch ethical, aesthetical and biomedical ways of distinguishing between good (or, more specifically: just, beautiful, healthy) and bad (for instance: unfair, ugly, abnormal).

In daily life practices, however, good/bad qualifications work in other ways. But how exactly? In the social sciences work on this topic has for a long time been blocked by a lack of invenstment in the content of valuations. Instead, their social functions were attended to (such as disciplining, distinction and/or normalisation).

More recently, questions of daily life valuing have variously been opened up. Building on this work (on justification, appreciation, diagnosing etc.), I will talk about goods and bads that have to do with food. My empirical materials come from ethnographic studies into eating-in-practice in the Netherlands. Interestingly, (1) food is being valued in highly varied registers (e.g. to do with safety, taste, health); (2) human bodies are involved in various ways (e.g. their survival depends on food, while they also are actively engaged in liking and disliking it); (3) valuing food is not contemplative, but rather involves a lot of work (to do with growing, selling, buying, cooking, eating). These intricacies may help us to start answering the question "what is valuing" in richer, thicker ways.


Annemarie Mol, who holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Groningen, is a professor of Anthropology of the Body at the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam. She authored The Body Mind Multiple and The Logic of Care (also published as De logica van het zorgen), co-authored Ziek is het woord niet, and co-edited Differences in Medicine; Complexities, and Care in Practice. She also published many articles. Currently she heads a team studying "The eating body in Western practice and theory", funded by an ERC Advanced Grant.

Laatst gewijzigd:30 juni 2014 09:58