The emergence of an orthorexic society as a specific junction of...


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Title The emergence of an orthorexic society as a specific junction of technological, food and communicative developments
Period 03 / 2009 - unknown
Status Current
Dissertation Yes
Research number OND1335796


The problem we intend to investigate is: which kind of exit strategy we can think in order to contain the broad diffusion of alimentary anxieties in western modern societies (orthorexic society). The first question we will analyze is: which hypothesis can be formulated about reconnecting territory, culture and food technology. Is it possible to conceive a new path for re-embedding agro-biotechnology within a socio-cultural and environmental local context? This question will be tackled through an analysis on the relationship between technology, food and communication. This analysis will request a preliminary anthropological and philosophical reflection about the relationship between Man, Nature and Technique, just to give an answer to the fundamental question: is really Technique the evil to escape? Studying this relationship we will try to re-discover, at the same time, the socio-cultural roots of Territory and Technique , on one hand, and the bio- technical essence of human being, on the other hand. For do that we will emphasize the role and the meaning of food in human experience: is it possible to conceive nutrition merely as a biological fact? To answer to this questions we will stress the fact that for Man feeding means using natural products from a specific territory and transforming them through culinary techniques. So food is an entity at the crossroads between territory and technique and by cooking, Man shows his specificity: to crossbreed nature and culture with techno-transformative action. Another question linked to the cultural matrix of food is the role of communication processes in defining human food experience. Our starting hypothesis is that communication is the most important factor linking feeding to the local cultural context. We will investigate implications given by this link. In summary, we will consider food as an emblematic case. At the crossroads between territory and technique, linked to a cultural matrix (rendered evident by the influence played by communication in alimentary processes), it highlights well the need we have to update the `toolbox¿ (technical and cultural) to face new alimentary problems. But it would be naïf not to consider how is changed the relationship between Man, Nature and Technique in the modern age. This is another question we will discuss. Ancient instrument, today technology is the new environment of Man life. And our original problem statement can be tackled only realizing that modernity created a fundamental paradox to face. On one hand, technology (especially biotechnology) posed a paradigmatic change in the relationship between Man and Nature activating a process of lifting out nutrition from the social and cultural context (Rifkin, 1998). On the other hand, human beings continue to feel the need to embed food in a frame which is linked to a specific territory and local culture (Nicolosi, 2007). In our research we will try to understand the symbolical value of this link, and then: how to solve this paradox? Are we destined to increase our fear to be physically or symbolically contaminated by food? In our research we will propose to consider this paradox as the starting point of a new strategy not refusing the technological development in itself. Nowadays the technical mediation of the relationship with nature is so deep that we cannot safeguard nature without technical assistance. So, we will try to go beyond the pro-anti debate re-discovering the way to reconstruct bio-technology for rendering it compatible with the bi-dimensional environment in which Man lives: the natural and the cultural one. This does not mean dominating technique, but avoiding that technique `happens¿ unknown to Man becoming, from essential condition of his existence, the main cause of his (if not physical) cultural, symbolical and moral extinction (Galimberti, 1999).

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Supervisor T. van Boekel
Supervisor Prof.dr. G.T.P. Ruivenkamp
Co-supervisor J.P. Jongerden
Project leader J.P. Jongerden
Doctoral/PhD student G. Nicolosi

Related research (upper level)


A71000 Nutrition
A80000 Man and society
D61000 Sociology
D66000 Communication sciences

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