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Edible assemblages and the Deleuzian event – rethinking ‘anorexia’

Allendyke, Sylvie Philomena (2014) Edible assemblages and the Deleuzian event – rethinking ‘anorexia’. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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Informed by the work of Gilles Deleuze and the ‘new materialisms’, the thesis is a post-representational, post-human response to contemporary conceptualisations and practices associated with 'anorexia nervosa'. The thesis puts these ideas to work through a mobile, or connective, ethnographic methodology which blends life on-line and off-line, without giving priority to one or the other. By holding in paradoxical tension both anorexia as an “aspirational lifestyle choice” (as it is often conceived in pro anorexic spaces on-line) and as a “biologically based serious mental illness” (as it is conceived through medical and psychiatric sense off-line), the thesis disrupts orthodox notions of what actual ‘anorexia nervosa’ is, and who actual ‘anorexics’ are. By ‘promiscuously’ engaging with texts which consider choice, determinism and materiality in ways which are rarely put to work in more traditionally bounded ‘disordered eating’ research, the thesis attempts to destroy ‘anorexia’ as a dogmatic image of thought and provide an alternative to individualised, cognised, spatio-temporalised representations. As one of the few sustained works which engages with the concept of ‘wannarexia’, the thesis attempts to produce an account which takes seriously the enchanting intra-action of entities and matter. More specifically it reconsiders interpellation in terms of captivating, expansive, yet unspecific promises which are produced and ignite desire. By engaging with the possibilities of what it is to eat and to speak, the thesis cleaves a space in which to consider the actual and the virtual of consuming-producing relationships. By drawing attention to non-human actants, the materiality of language and the abstractness of matter, the thesis attempts to provide a robust yet empirically transcendental account of a difficult relationship to feeding the body.

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