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Palgrave Macmillan

Health Without Bodies

Health Claims and Scientific Evidence on the European Market

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  • © 2023


  • Shows how the human body is mobilized to invent a new market and form of scientific evidence
  • Contributes to a broad societal debate on the role of science and expertise in large juridical and political entities
  • Case studies make philosophical arguments about the nature of science accessible and actionable

Part of the book series: Health, Technology and Society (HTE)

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About this book

Health Without Bodies invites readers on an ethnographic exploration of the boundary between food and medicine. Food-related health claims are governed in the EU as voluntary statements on food labels to help consumers make ‘informed choices’. This poses an interesting problem: when claims refer to health, one can no longer ignore that consumers have bodies. Asking how these claims have become possible as a new kind of truth-statement on the market, this book reveals the contours of a fundamental tension between what is expected from consumers in a liberal market economy, and how food and the body come to trouble those expectations. In doing so, it illuminates why the difference between food and medicine is such a sensitive issue, and why seemingly trivial health claims have been subject to so much debate and political control.

Afterword by Isabelle Stengers.


Table of contents (8 chapters)


“Health Without Bodies is a fascinating journey into the claims and counter claims surrounding the ‘health benefits’ of foods. Such foods become entangled in a powerful web of regulatory governance demarcating the boundaries between medicine and nutrition, the pharmacological and the nutracological, the patient and the consumer. Nowhere are such boundaries more volatile than in the context of food, and especially in the way that food is so anthropologically pivotal to questions of culture, morality and political order.” (Nik Brown, University of York, author of Immunitary Life: The Biopolitics of Immunity)

“In this carefully researched exploration of health claims on food labels, Kim Hendrickx investigates not just a complex corner of European food law but how food knowledge and the market intersect. Through vivid empirical explorations from sugar refineries to corporate settings, Hendrickx invites us to undertake a crucial move: seeing scientific and regulatorydebates as sites for understanding how the architecture of the European market deals with the irruption of bodily matters.” (Brice Laurent, Mines Paris & Anses, author of European Objects: The Troubled Dreams of Harmonization)

Authors and Affiliations

  • FNRS & Spiral Research Centre, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium

    Kim Hendrickx

About the author

Kim Hendrickx is Research Associate of the Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) in Belgium and member of the Spiral Research Centre at the University of Liège, Belgium.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Health Without Bodies

  • Book Subtitle: Health Claims and Scientific Evidence on the European Market

  • Authors: Kim Hendrickx

  • Series Title: Health, Technology and Society

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-99-4949-6Published: 23 November 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-99-4952-6Due: 24 December 2023

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-99-4950-2Published: 22 November 2023

  • Series ISSN: 2946-3386

  • Series E-ISSN: 2946-3378

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXIII, 179

  • Number of Illustrations: 7 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Sociology, general, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology, Political Sociology, Political Sociology

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