The Political Economy of Nutrition in the Eighteenth Century – gloknos Annual Lecture Series

8 March 2019, 17:00 - 19:00

Room SG1 & SG2, Alison Richard Building, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

gloknos is delighted to welcome Prof Rebecca Earle (University of Warwick) to present The Political Economy of Nutrition in the Eighteenth Century as part of our annual lecture series. 

Eighteenth-century European writers frequently described foods as ‘nourishing’. What did they mean? Over a century would pass before scientists elaborated a nutritional paradigm that quantified food’s nutritive qualities. Healthful food was of central importance to eighteenth-century conceptions of national strength and prosperity, but neither statesmen nor scientists could agree on objective, quantifiable methods for evaluating a food’s potential to nourish. As a result, the embodied experience of plebeian eaters remained a central measure of a food’s status as nourishing. As a result, elite programmes to promote particular foodstuffs as suitable for the labouring population relied not simply on the expert opinions of doctors and scientists, but also on the bodies and purported views of the very people at whom these campaigns were directed. With the rise of nutritional science in the late nineteenth century, the opinions of ordinary eaters lost their epistemic authority; during the eighteenth century the embodied experience of working people remained stubbornly central to learned discussions of the nature of nourishment.


Rebecca Earle is a historian of food, and of the cultural history of Spanish America and early modern Europe. 

Attendance is free but spaces are limited, so please email to reserve your seat. Please be aware that we will take an audio recording of this event, which may include any questions and responses delivered by the audience. 

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gloknos is initially funded for 5 years by the European Research Council through a Consolidator Grant awarded to Dr Inanna Hamati-Ataya for her project ARTEFACT (2017-2022). ARTEFACT is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 724451). For information about gloknos or ARTEFACT please contact the administrator in the first instance.


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