This article argues for an affective approach to obesity that destabilizes the conceptual boundaries between the biological and the social aspects of food, eating, and fatness. Its approach foregrounds visceral experience, attends to food both inside and outside the body, and explores how bodies labeled “obese” consume their political, economic, and material environments. This approach is termed affective political ecology. The authors’ aim is to draw attention to how the entanglements between the physiological and social aspects of eating tend to be absented from antiobesity public health rhetoric. By exploring a range of ethnographic examples in high-income countries, they illuminate how such interventions often fail to account for the complex interplays between subjective corporeal experience and political economic relations and contend that overlooking an individual’s visceral relationship with food counterproductively augments social stigma, stresses, and painful emotions. They demonstrate, then, how an approach that draws together political economic and biomedical perspectives better reflects the lived experience of eating. In so doing, the authors aim to indicate how attending to affective political ecologies can further our understanding of the consumption practices of those in precarious and stressful social contexts, and they offer additional insight into how the entanglement of the biological and the social is experienced in everyday life.

You do not currently have access to this content.