, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 271–274 | Cite as

Incommensurability, fat and obesity: Ethnography of global health

  • Jessica Hardin
Books Forum
Emily Yates-Doerr The Weight of Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala. University of California Press, Berkeley, 2015, US$29.95, ISBN: 978-0520286825.

… if indeterminacy refers to the possibility of describing a phenomenon in two or more equally true ways, then incommensurability refers to a state in which two phenomena (or worlds) cannot be compared by a third without producing serious distortion.

(Povinelli, p. 320)

… the issue of incommensurability: The situation of phenomena that are, ostensibly, impossible to measure or compare in terms of the same metric.

(Handler, p. 627)

The back cover of The Weight of Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemalaopens with the following examples: “A woman with hypertension refuses vegetables. A man with diabetes adds iron-fortified sugar to his coffee”. These kinds of examples, and many more that run throughout the book, raise questions about incommensurability. Not in the usual terms about how one concept is...


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Copyright information

© The London School of Economics and Political Science 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Hardin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyPacific UniversityUSA

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