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Metabolic Living


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Interlude. Birthday Cakes 27

1. The Thin-Fat Indian 31

Interlude. Mango Madness 65

2. The Taste No Chef Can Give 69

Interlude. The Ration Card 99

3. Readying the Home 105

Interlude. Stamps 141

4. Lines of Therapy 145

Interlude. Waiting Room Walls 187

5. Gut Attachments 193

Conclusion. Metabolic Mumbai 225

Notes 235

Bibliography 253

Index 271

About the Author

Harris Solomon is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Global Health at Duke University.


"Metabolic Living is an important contribution to contemporary medical anthropology, especially in regards to the study of disease chronicity and to contemporary South Asian studies. In addition, Solomon provides a welcome challenge to the existing universalizing public health discourse on 'globesity.' Even while describing the seeming inevitability of metabolic disease in Mumbai, he uncovers the complex elements of social life that contribute to and circulate around it, and the suffering that stems from it. The focus on metabolism and absorption opens up new ways of viewing intersections between bodies and their environments, as well as new ways of thinking about urban vitality in 21st century India." -- Andrea S. Wiley * Anthropological Quarterly *
"The book offers a novel way to talk about metabolic illnesses in urban space, often directly or indirectly talking back to medical and public health discourses on food, bodies, and urban and urbanizing spaces.... The poetic humanity of metabolic precariousness in India is visible in every page of this rich ethnographic narrative, making it a valuable contribution to literatures in medical anthropology, science studies, area studies, food studies, and public health policy." -- Nayantara Sheoran Appleton * Medical Anthropology Quarterly *
"A wonderfully evocative ethnography, Solomon's book makes one reflect on the very nature of metabolic syndrome.... Through this book, Solomon ... challeng[es] medical experts to consider a multi-layered approach to solving the issues of obesity and diabetes that plague contemporary India." -- Gauri Anilkumar Pitale * FoodAnthropology *
"Pointing out that food is never just food-that it incorporates joyous and toxic social lives and historical traces-the book effectively shifts the conversation about metabolism away from junk food or obese bodies and towards absorptive and thoroughly social processes. Metabolic Living provides health-care professionals valuable insight into how people are living with metabolic illness." -- Emily Yates-Doerr * The Lancet *
"In the sophistication of its crafting, Metabolic Living achieves its tricky aspiration to understand metabolism both as a tool for ethnographic observation and as a site of anthropological analysis. Indeed, it is this blurring of instrument and object, the ethnographer and the ethnographic, that gives Metabolic Living its persuasive force." -- Dwaipayan Banerjee * American Anthropologist *
"This study is an excellent observation of current anxieties over prosperity diseases in urban India, locating the connections between food, bodies, and environments. While Solomon's ethnographical accounts revolve around different sets of frameworks and narrations of common people, patients, nutritionists and experts, he cautiously avoided stigmatic fears and pain and presented metabolic suffering throughout within a cultural context." -- Santhosh Abraham * South Asia Research *
"Solomon takes us through domestic kitchens and social service centers, slaughterhouses and food processing plants, streets and street-side food stalls, and waiting rooms and hospitals to provide nuanced and insightful descriptions of life in Mumbai." -- GauriI Pathak * Journal of Anthropological Research *
"Metabolic Living is the ?rst ethnographic monograph on the diabetes epidemic in South Asia, and this alone marks it as an important contribution to the study of health and illness in the subcontinent. It also provides an evocative and complex picture of being a person with a metabolic illness in Mumbai."
-- Lesley Jo Weaver * Journal of Asian Studies *
"Metabolic Living is a rich, ambitious book whose theoretical and ethnographic model builds bridges across chapters with disparate topics and actors. . . . For readers curious about how to research and write the complexities of embodiment - and are open to experimenting with how to get there - Metabolic Living is a productive and exhilarating read." -- Stephanie Maroney * The Senses and Society *

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