January’s source of the month is Alexandra Widmer’s recent article, “Locating low-protein life: post-war colonial nutrition science, subsistence metabolisms and food cultures in the South-Western Pacific Islands,” in Food, Culture & Society.
From the article abstract: “Can bodies be healthy if consuming scant amounts of protein? To answer this in the 1960s, nutrition researchers, working through the Australian Institute of Anatomy and South Pacific Commission rendered food cultures into research variables to compare the metabolisms of research participants living in different food systems and economies (subsistence and wage) in the south-western Pacific Islands... I argue that nutrition research where food cultures become a variable for identifying and isolating a research population primarily render indigenous metabolisms legible in conjunction with the operationalization of economic differences and, to a lesser extent, raced and sexed capacities. A focus on food cultures and systems as a way of isolating a research population can situate populations in opposition to market economies and presume unidirectional social change. This article analyzes thus how “nutritional primitivism” is entangled with research practices, colonial administrative goals and the humanitarian concern with universal protein standards.”
Would you like to suggest a Source of the Month, or contribute to the H-Nutrition bibliography? Contact Josh Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more resources on the history of nutrition, please see H-Nutrition's Zotero library: https://www.zotero.org/groups/691119/h-nutrition/library