27 May 2009

Government Support for Fat Studies and HAES in the UK

A series of Fat Studies and Health At Every Size events has won government funding in the UK.

Fat Studies and Health at Every Size: Bigness Beyond Obesity will feature four day-long seminars concerning discrimination, HAES in the clinic, fat activism, and researching fatness.

The objectives of the proposed seminar series are:

1. To critically question the political, social, cultural and economic structures within which dominant approaches to fatness are embedded and to explore the multiple experiences of fatness according to social identities (race/ethnicity, gender, class, age, sexuality etc.);

2. To explore multiple theoretical approaches to fatness beyond restrictive medical models of 'obesity' and 'overweight' (and the associated concepts of metabolic risk and nutritional well-being beyond restrictive models of energy balance);

3. To discuss the ethical and practical issues associated with different methodologies used in Fat Studies and Health at Every Size research;

4. To facilitate interdisciplinary discussion and networking between academics, activists and practitioners seeking to further non size-discriminatory approaches to health, particularly amongst postgraduates and early career researchers (both in the UK and internationally);

5.To disseminate the outcomes of the seminar series in both academic and popular arenas to counter the dominance of medical models of fatness in the UK.

Dr Bethan Evans of Manchester Metropolitan University instigated and drafted the application. She said:

"Given the power and pervasiveness of medical models of health and weight, it is often difficult for Fat Studies and HAES activists, researchers and practitioners to find the space to develop alternative ways of thinking about and working with/as fat bodies.

Fat Studies and HAES have historically developed from different disciplinary backgrounds (Fat Studies associated with Women's Studies, and HAES within the health sciences), but they each offer important perspectives and the intersections between these two approaches may offer productive alternatives to the dominant medical model.

This seminar series is therefore important in providing supportive space for scholars, activists and practitioners to discuss the development of these approaches."

The seminar series will run 2010-2011, the four seminars will take place in Durham, Coventry, Warwick and Manchester, and will be convened by a team that includes Shirlene Badger, University of Cambridge; Dr Karen Throsby, University of Warwick; Dr Rachel Colls, Durham University; Dr Emma Rich, Loughborough University; Lucy Aphramor, Coventry University; and Dr Lee Monaghan and I from the University of Limerick. The seminars will involve international participants and will be open to people outside academia.

Fat Studies and Health at Every Size: Bigness Beyond Obesity has been funded by The Economic and Social Research Council, which supports research in the social sciences in the UK. The ESRC is itself funded by the British government's Department of Trade and Industry's Office of Science and Innovation.

Further information about the seminars

Reporting back on the first ESRC Fat Studies and HAES Seminar

Reporting back on the second ESRC Fat Studies and HAES Seminar

Reporting back on the third ESRC Fat Studies and HAES Seminar

Reporting back on the fourth and final ESRC Fat Studies and HAES Seminar

ESRC Fat Studies and Health At Every Size