Fat, Queer, Dead: ‘Obesity’ and the Death Drive

White, F.R. 2012. Fat, Queer, Dead: ‘Obesity’ and the Death Drive. Somatechnics. 2 (1), pp. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.3366/soma.2012.0035

TitleFat, Queer, Dead: ‘Obesity’ and the Death Drive
TypeJournal article
AuthorsWhite, F.R.
Abstract

That contemporary discourses of the ‘obesity epidemic’ are engaged in the construction of fatness as pathological, immoral and socially undesirable has been the subject much recent critical inquiry within Fat Studies. This paper contributes to that literature with a re-reading of obesity discourse via what queer theorist Lee Edelman (2004) has called ‘reproductive futurism’. Edelman contends that queerness figures the social order's death drive, and is thus abjected in order to assure the reproduction of that social order. This paper argues that, like the queer, fatness is increasingly being figured as anti-social and as that which must be eliminated in the name of a viable future.

Framing obesity in this way makes possible an analysis of the presumed ‘threat’ of obesity, frequently referred to, but seldom unpacked, in the existing literature. A comparative analysis of the UK government's Change 4 Life (2009) public health campaign and nineteenth century theories of degeneracy is used to illustrate the cultural anxieties about immorality, disease, civilization and death that undergird both discourses. This analysis suggests the centrality of rationality and self-control, understood as moral, to the reproduction of the social order.

Furthermore, reading the ‘obesity epidemic’ as couched in the logic of reproductive futurism opens up potential alternative approaches to fat politics. In the light of Samantha Murray's (2008) critique of the liberal humanist underpinnings of fat activist discourse, this paper considers whether Edelman's advocacy of ‘future-negating’ for queers, offers a productive trajectory for fat politics.

JournalSomatechnics
Journal citation2 (1), pp. 1-17
ISSN2044-0138
2044-0146
Year2012
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3366/soma.2012.0035
Web address (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/soma.2012.0035
Publication dates
Published01 Feb 2012
File

Related outputs

Practices for gender-inclusive module introductions
Fraser, J. and White, F.R. 2022. Practices for gender-inclusive module introductions. in: Kitchener, M. (ed.) Handbook for Creating a Gender-Sensitive Curriculum: Teaching and Learning Strategies The Oxford Centre for Staff Learning and Development and The Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice. pp. 59-60

Embodied Experiences of Trans Pregnancy
White, F.R., Hines, S., Pfeffer, C.A., Pearce, R. and Riggs, D.W. 2021. Embodied Experiences of Trans Pregnancy. Body and Society.

Fat and trans: Towards a new theorization of gender in Fat Studies
White, F.R. 2021. Fat and trans: Towards a new theorization of gender in Fat Studies. in: Pausé, C. and Taylor, S.R. (ed.) The Routledge International Handbook of Fat Studies London Routledge. pp. 78-87

Men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people negotiating conception: Normative resistance and inventive pragmatism
Riggs, D., Pfeffer, C., Pearce, R., Hines, S. and White, F.R. 2021. Men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people negotiating conception: Normative resistance and inventive pragmatism. International Journal of Transgender Health. 22 (1-2), pp. 6-17 conception. https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2020.1808554

"Fatties Cause Global Warming": The Strange Entanglement of Obesity and Climate Change
White, F.R. 2021. "Fatties Cause Global Warming": The Strange Entanglement of Obesity and Climate Change. in: Embodying Contagion: The Viropolitics of Horror and Desire in Contemporary Discourse Cardiff, Wales University of Wales Press.

Men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people's experiences of pregnancy loss: an international qualitative study.
Riggs, Damien W., Pearce, Ruth, Pfeffer, Carla A., Hines, Sally, White, Francis Ray and Ruspini, Elisabetta 2020. Men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people's experiences of pregnancy loss: an international qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 20 (1), p. 482. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-020-03166-6

Fleshing Out Non-Binary
White, F.R. 2020. Fleshing Out Non-Binary. in: Twist, J., Vincent, B., Barker, M-J. and Gupta, K. (ed.) Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities London Jessica Kingsley Publishers. pp. 223-228

Transnormativity in the psy disciplines: Constructing pathology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and Standards of Care
Riggs, D.W., Pearce, R., Pfeffer, C.A., Hines, S., White, F.R. and Ruspini, E. 2019. Transnormativity in the psy disciplines: Constructing pathology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and Standards of Care. American Psychologist. 74 (8), pp. 912-924. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000545

Embodying the Fat/Trans Intersection
White, F.R. 2019. Embodying the Fat/Trans Intersection. in: Friedman, M., Rice, C. and Rinaldi, J. (ed.) Thickening Fat: Fat Bodies, Intersectionality, and Social Justice London Routledge. pp. 110-121

Beyond the pregnant man: representing trans pregnancy in A Deal With The Universe
Pearce, R. and White, F.R. 2019. Beyond the pregnant man: representing trans pregnancy in A Deal With The Universe. Feminist Media Studies. 19 (5), pp. 764-767. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2019.1630925

Queering Fat Embodiment [Book Review]
White, F.R. 2016. Queering Fat Embodiment [Book Review]. Sexualities. 19 (5-6), pp. 615-616. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460715624457

Fucking failures: The future of fat sex
White, F.R. 2016. Fucking failures: The future of fat sex. Sexualities. 19 (8), pp. 962-979. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460716640733

Media and the Rhetoric of Body Perfection: Cosmetic Surgery, Weight Loss and Beauty in Popular Culture [Book Review]
White, F.R. 2015. Media and the Rhetoric of Body Perfection: Cosmetic Surgery, Weight Loss and Beauty in Popular Culture [Book Review]. Women's Studies International Forum. 52 (Sept-Oct), pp. 46-47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2015.07.005

Fat Gay Men: Girth, Mirth and the Politics of Stigma [Book Review]
White, F.R. 2015. Fat Gay Men: Girth, Mirth and the Politics of Stigma [Book Review]. Journal of Gender Studies. 24 (2), pp. 248-250. https://doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2015.1005972

Towards true equality: engaging with LGBTI students at Westminster
Cranfield, S., White, F.R., Wareham, J. and Follows, M. 2014. Towards true equality: engaging with LGBTI students at Westminster. University of Westminster Learning and Teaching Symposium 2014. University of Westminster, London 9 June 2014

"We're kind of devolving": visual tropes of evolution in obesity discourse
White, F.R. 2014. "We're kind of devolving": visual tropes of evolution in obesity discourse. in: Monaghan, L., Colls, R. and Evans, B. (ed.) Obesity discourse and fat politics: research, critique and interventions London Routledge.

Fat/Trans: Queering the Activist Body
White, F.R. 2014. Fat/Trans: Queering the Activist Body. Fat Studies: an interdisciplinary journal of body weight and society. 3 (2), pp. 86-100. https://doi.org/10.1080/21604851.2014.889489

‘We’re kind of devolving’: visual tropes of evolution in obesity discourse
White, F.R. 2013. ‘We’re kind of devolving’: visual tropes of evolution in obesity discourse. Critical Public Health. 23 (3), pp. 320-330. https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2013.777693

No Fat Future? The Uses of Anti-Social Queer Theory for Fat Activism
White, F.R. 2013. No Fat Future? The Uses of Anti-Social Queer Theory for Fat Activism. in: Michaelis, B., Haschemi Yekani, E. and Kilian, E. (ed.) Queer futures: reconsidering normativity, activism and the political Aldershot Ashgate. pp. 21-36

Undesirable consequences? Resignifying discursive constructions of fatness in the 'obesity epidemic'
White, F.R. 2009. Undesirable consequences? Resignifying discursive constructions of fatness in the 'obesity epidemic'. in: Tomrley, C. and Kaloski-Naylor, A. (ed.) Fat studies in the UK York Raw Nerve Books.

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/8z4x2/fat-queer-dead-obesity-and-the-death-drive


Share this

Usage statistics

161 total views
375 total downloads
0 views this month
0 downloads this month
These values are for the period from September 2nd 2018, when this repository was created