Metabolic Living: Food, Fat, and the Absorption of Illness in India
Conclusion: Metabolic Mumbai
The book’s conclusion discusses how an inquiry into ideas and experiences of absorption allows food to be important to the story of metabolic illness, but disallows food’s exclusive reign as an end unto itself. Attention to food’s movements in and out of bodies and surroundings demonstrates how persons and food interrelate in ways besides instrumental eating. The implication of this analytic is a more nuanced way to witness how passages between organisms and environments do cultural, social, and political work. It is an entry point into techno-ethical questions such as “What counts as food and when does it mean life?” as well as questions about method and narrative, such as “How might we account for the complexity of vital substances, while staying close to the thoroughly human elements of appetite, nutrition, and illness?” It contrasts ideas of being a metabolism from having a metabolism, and offers ways to understand the differences between the two. One way is through the concept of aperture effects, whereby any study of metabolic illness must carefully parse how sharp or blurry the consuming subject must be in an analytic frame. The second way is through the idea of world clocks, which the conclusion poses as a way to understand how bodies can be temporally distinct.