Humankind and Fat. Attraction, Repulsion, Health and Politics. 12th International Symposium of CORPUS. 27th-29th October 2021

Frédéric  Duhart's picture
Call for Papers
August 30, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Health and Health Care, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Public Health, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Founded in 2009 after a series of seminars organised between 2001 and 2008 at the EHESS (Paris) and the Autonomous University of Madrid, CORPUS aims to be an effective participant in the construction of a widely diverse and scientifically based dialogue on the subject of the anthropological aspects of the body. CORPUS aims to offer a forum of cross-thinking and open dialogues about this fascinating object of study.

The twelfth International Symposium of CORPUS is organised with the support of the Centre for Applied Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies / C-CLASC at the Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy Timisoara (Romania). Its theme will be “Humankind and Fat: Attraction, Repulsion, Health and Politics”.

Fat that our bodies accumulate, fat we consume, our representations of fatty foods and bodies… The relationships between humankind and fat are a fascinating topic for social and medical scientists. They are highly variable according to the places and the times and, often, much more nuanced and complex that the dominant discourse suggests. Not very so long ago, European peasants valued fat. Today, their urbanised descendants have panic attacks if they have to move a hole in the belt! However, even if they are lipophobic, they are still linking some traditional fatty foods with festival meals. Western canons of beauty radically changed since the time when Romanian sayings went that a beautiful woman had to be fat or that a fat man was healthy. Entertainment media teach us that perfect people are thin. Nevertheless, the apparent triumph of this ideal of the body beautiful does not mean that fatter bodies totally lost their sex appeal or their power of fascination. Out of Europe, the relationships between humankind and fat can obviously differ, even in our globalized world.

If physicians early decided to fight against overweight, the public health concept of “battle against obesity epidemic” was born at the end of 20th century. Response to the visible results of extremely complex societal and nutritional realities, this medical preoccupation quickly led to the implementation of national policies in matter of the risk of obesity. Logically, they were more or less ambitious, restrictive or efficient. At the same time, the medical, political and mediatic obsession with the “big bodies” could be read and experienced as a form of social stigmatization or as a negation of the right to be out of arbitrary standards – “normal” Body Mass Index, etc. This positioning that challenges the hegemonic biomedical discourse on the human body can manifest in political activism or artistic proposals.

We invite researchers (historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, psychologists, philosophers, physicians, literature, art specialists, etc.) interested in these questions regarding the relationships between humankind and fat to participate in this meeting, especially considering one of the following themes:


  • Medical and philosophical discourses about big bodies, body fat, overweight, obesity, etc.
  • Big bodies in folklore, contemporary pop culture, art and literature
  • Biocultural and physical anthropology perspectives on human fat
  • Body size preferences: societal canons and discreet fantasies
  • Power and fat in traditional societies
  • Critical readings of concepts like “obesity epidemic”, “fat studies”, etc.
  • Obesity policies
  • Fat acceptance movements
  • Fear of fat and eating disorders
  • Fatty foods between fascination and repulsion
  • Weight-loss diets and their publics
  • Fatty foods in utopias and dystopias


Presentations will be 20 minutes long and must be delivered in English. The proposals must include an abstract (150-300 words) and a current CV. They must be sent to Frédéric Duhart ( and Gabriela-Marianna Luca ( The deadline for receiving presentation proposals is August 30th 2021.


The symposium will take place partly on site / partly online over three days, October 27th-29th 2021.

There will be no registration fee. Transportation costs, accommodation or fees generated by all kind of “Covid-19 situations” will be the sole responsibility of each participant.



Frédéric Duhart, CORPUS General Coordinator

Gabriela-Marianna Luca, C-CLASC Director

Contact Info: 

Frédéric Duhart. CORPUS General Coordinator