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In Eating the Ocean Elspeth Probyn investigates the profound importance of the ocean and the future of fish and human entanglement. On her ethnographic journey around the world's oceans and fisheries, she finds that the ocean is being simplified in a food politics that is overwhelmingly land based and preoccupied with buzzwords like "local" and "sustainable". Developing a conceptual tack that combines critical analysis and embodied ethnography, she dives into the lucrative and endangered bluefin tuna market, the gendered politics of "sustainability", the ghoulish business of producing fish meal and fish oil for animals and humans, and the long history of encounters between humans and oysters. Seeing the ocean as the site of the entanglement of multiple species – which are all implicated in the interactions of technology, culture, politics, and the market – enables us to think about ways to develop a reflexive ethics of taste and place based in the realization that we cannot escape the food politics of the human-fish relationship.
Introduction. Relating Fish and Humans 1
1. An Oceanic Habitus 23
2. Following Oysters, Relating Taste 49
3. Swimming with Tuna 77
4. Mermaids, Fishwives, and Herring Quines: Gendering the More-than-Human 101
5. Little Fish: Eating with the Ocean 129
Conclusion. Reeling it In 159
Elspeth Probyn is Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney and the author of Blush: Faces of Shame and Carnal Appetites: FoodSexIdentities.
"Beautifully written and full of profound ideas, Eating the Ocean engages the reader and surprises her at many turns. Elspeth Probyn complicates the current work being done on food politics, making this an urgent and necessary book for scholars of food studies, environmental culture, the materialist turn, consumer culture, and gender."
– Sarah Sharma, author of In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics
"Once again Elspeth Probyn charts a contemporary site of contested encounters with style, humor, erudition, and wit. Moving on, through, and under the waves she provides a timely guide to eating the oceans more ethically by cultivating a metabolic sensibility more responsive to our entanglements with aquatic worlds."
– Sarah Franklin, author of Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship