Eating the Ocean

Eating the Ocean, Duke University Press, 2016

In Eating the Ocean Elspeth Probyn investigates the profound importance of the ocean and the future of fish and human entanglement. On her ethnographic journey around the world’s oceans and fisheries, she finds that the ocean is being simplified in a food politics that is overwhelmingly land based and preoccupied with buzzwords like “local” and “sustainable.” Developing a conceptual tack that combines critical analysis and embodied ethnography, she dives into the lucrative and endangered bluefin tuna market, the gendered politics of “sustainability,” the ghoulish business of producing fishmeal and oil for animals and humans, and the long history of encounters between humans and oysters. Seeing the ocean as the site of the entanglement of multiple species—which are all implicated in the interactions of technology, culture, politics, and the market—enables us to think about ways to develop a reflexive ethics of taste and place based in the realization that we cannot escape the food politics of the human-fish relationship.

Elspeth Probyn (Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia) is Professor of Gender & Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She has taught media, cultural studies and sociology at universities in Canada and the USA, and has held several prestigious visiting appointments around the world. Her work has helped to establish several new areas of scholarship – from embodied research methods to cultural studies of food. Professor Probyn is the author of several groundbreaking monographs and over a hundred articles and chapters across the fields of gender, media, and cultural studies, philosophy, cultural geography, anthropology and critical psychology. Her current research (funded by an ARC Discovery Project) analyses the sustainability of the production and consumption of fish, the results of which are published in her new book, Eating the Ocean (Duke University Press, 2016).

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