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  • Acknowledgments  ix

    Introduction  1

    Interlude. Birthday Cakes  27

    1. The Thin-Fat Indian  31

    Interlude. Mango Madness  65

    2. The Taste No Chef Can Give  69

    Interlude. The Ration Card  99

    3. Readying the Home  105

    Interlude. Stamps  141

    4. Lines of Therapy  145

    Interlude. Waiting Room Walls  187

    5. Gut Attachments  193

    Conclusion. Metabolic Mumbai  225

    Notes  235

    Bibliography  253

    Index  271
  • "Arguing that metabolic disease only makes sense meta-metabolically, Harris’s important new book helps us to understand that governing from the inside out leaves a lot to be desired."

    "Solomon’s 'metabolic living' provides an indispensable guide to tracking and comprehending how processes of bodily absorption and rejection begin well before a cargo container is packed, a plane boards or, to be sure, a morsel of food is forked."

    "Metabolic Living is an important contribution to contemporary medical anthropology, especially in regards to the study of disease chronicity and to contemporary South Asian studies. In addition, Solomon provides a welcome challenge to the existing universalizing public health discourse on 'globesity.' Even while describing the seeming inevitability of metabolic disease in Mumbai, he uncovers the complex elements of social life that contribute to and circulate around it, and the suffering that stems from it. The focus on metabolism and absorption opens up new ways of viewing intersections between bodies and their environments, as well as new ways of thinking about urban vitality in 21st century India."

    "The book offers a novel way to talk about metabolic illnesses in urban space, often directly or indirectly talking back to medical and public health discourses on food, bodies, and urban and urbanizing spaces.... The poetic humanity of metabolic precariousness in India is visible in every page of this rich ethnographic narrative, making it a valuable contribution to literatures in medical anthropology, science studies, area studies, food studies, and public health policy."

    Reviews

  • "Arguing that metabolic disease only makes sense meta-metabolically, Harris’s important new book helps us to understand that governing from the inside out leaves a lot to be desired."

    "Solomon’s 'metabolic living' provides an indispensable guide to tracking and comprehending how processes of bodily absorption and rejection begin well before a cargo container is packed, a plane boards or, to be sure, a morsel of food is forked."

    "Metabolic Living is an important contribution to contemporary medical anthropology, especially in regards to the study of disease chronicity and to contemporary South Asian studies. In addition, Solomon provides a welcome challenge to the existing universalizing public health discourse on 'globesity.' Even while describing the seeming inevitability of metabolic disease in Mumbai, he uncovers the complex elements of social life that contribute to and circulate around it, and the suffering that stems from it. The focus on metabolism and absorption opens up new ways of viewing intersections between bodies and their environments, as well as new ways of thinking about urban vitality in 21st century India."

    "The book offers a novel way to talk about metabolic illnesses in urban space, often directly or indirectly talking back to medical and public health discourses on food, bodies, and urban and urbanizing spaces.... The poetic humanity of metabolic precariousness in India is visible in every page of this rich ethnographic narrative, making it a valuable contribution to literatures in medical anthropology, science studies, area studies, food studies, and public health policy."

  • "Harris Solomon’s deft and beautifully written analysis makes a strong case for absorption as a key concept that will enable new understandings of global health and its politics; food and obesity as generative sites for reflection on complex transformation in urban India; and metabolism as a powerful figure for reanimating debate in science studies, medical and philosophical anthropology, and public health." — Lawrence Cohen, author of No Aging in India: Alzheimer's, the Bad Family, and Other Modern Things

    "As we travel the streets of Mumbai with Harris Solomon we come to understand the empirical complexity of any too-simple analysis of 'globesity' and discover that India's rising rates of obesity and metabolic disorders cannot be reduced to a problem of overeating. Solomon's writing is vivid, and he represents the dilemmas, resources, and popular cultures of contemporary India with sympathy, occasional humor, and considerable skill. This compelling and thought-provoking book will find eager audiences in medical anthropology, science studies, public health, and South Asian studies." — Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America

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  • Description

    The popular narrative of "globesity" posits that the adoption of Western diets is intensifying obesity and diabetes in the Global South and that disordered metabolisms are the embodied consequence of globalization and excess. In Metabolic Living Harris Solomon recasts these narratives by examining how people in Mumbai, India, experience the porosity between food, fat, the body, and the city. Solomon contends that obesity and diabetes pose a problem of absorption between body and environment. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Mumbai's home kitchens, metabolic disorder clinics, food companies, markets, and social services, he details the absorption of everything from snack foods and mangoes to insulin, stress, and pollutants. As these substances pass between the city and the body and blur the two domains, the onset and treatment of metabolic illness raise questions about who has the power to decide what goes into bodies and when food means life. Evoking metabolism as a condition of contemporary urban life and a vital political analytic, Solomon illuminates the lived predicaments of obesity and diabetes, and reorients our understanding of chronic illness in India and beyond.
     

    About The Author(s)

    Harris Solomon is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Global Health at Duke University.
     
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