12 December: Translantis Colloquium “Negotiating health and illness”

ObesityTranslantis Colloquium

Thursday 12 December 2013, 9-11am, Drift 21, Sweelinckzaal

dr. Hieke Huistra: Risking lives: Constructing risk group identities in Dutch public discourse, 1890–1990

In my research, I investigate the construction of (health) risk groups in Dutch society in the twentieth century (1890–1990), in order to improve our understanding of identity formation in public discourse, and in particular of the role of reference cultures in this process. My project analyzes the formation of ‘health identities’ by investigating a typical twentieth-century type of medical classification: risk factor classifications (e.g., the BMI scale, the blood pressure range that is seen as ‘too high’). Risk factor classifications create risk groups – and with that, as Ian Hacking puts it, a new ‘way to be a person’. What that new way of being a person exactly entails depends on the identity of the risk group. My project investigates (the construction of) the identities of three risk groups, related to the risk factors fatness, stress, and high blood pressure.

In this talk I will first discuss the theoretical and methodological approach of my research project; I will then present my first explorations on fatness as a risk factor in the twentieth century.