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Foodscapes And Children’s Bodies

Helene Brembeck, Barbro Johansson

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This article addresses children, food and body, and introduces a Deleuzian and Childhood Studies-inspired use of the concept of foodscape. The data draws on a transdisciplinary project on children as co-researchers of foodscapes. In this article we do not discuss the method or the children’s research results, which we have done elsewhere. Instead, our aim is to present a theoretically inspired analysis of our own fieldwork observations during this project in order to discuss the performance of children’s bodies, food and eating. Departing from the concept of foodscape, we present an analysis of some food events that illustrate the complexity of children’s foodscapes concerning the interaction between spaces, bodies, foodstuffs, values and rules. In encountering food and eating at various places, different child becomings emerge. We distinguish three powerful performances of what Stuart Aitken (2008) calls “I-dos”: First, the seemingly obedient pupil, who pretends to do what he or she is told, but who more or less imperceptibly escapes from adult supervision. Second, the child who makes use of the stereotyped and possibly cute “food monster” designation, and turns it into a threatening subject, who disturbs the order and challenges adults’ power. Third, the knowledgeable scientist who, with the help of a research project, adult experts, nutritional calculation programs and ingredients, seizes the definition of the body as a site for growing stronger, healthier and more capable. The foodscapes we met held many “striated spaces” (Deleuze & Guattari 1987), where the children had few alternatives to adhering to the adults’ designated “I-ams”. But we also entered smooth spots where children had the opportunity to experiment with “I-dos” that would not have occurred to us had we not followed them, and there are certainly many more that appear in the children’s everyday encounters with food.