Hunger strikes are a political device. Since the early 20th century, they have frequently provoked debate on the individual’s right to self-determination and the limits of the state’s duty to protect the well-being of its citizens and ensure their survival. When we read present day news reports on hunger strikes, the suffering body is in the focus of camera lenses and at the center of our imaginations. Unsurprisingly, questions on normative body ideals, fitness, and food seem to be rather absent. But in the Progressive Era (~ 1890s-1920s), they arguably played a vital, maybe even a formative role in establishing hunger strikes as a form of protest. Back then, British and American activists for women’s suffrage not only drew public…

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Visiting an Asian fast food restaurant one usually doesn’t need to ask for a knife and fork. While some people readily use the western-style cutlery provided, others insist on using chopsticks. Why is that so? Varying degrees of proficiency in handling different eating tools certainly is one reason, but there is more to it. Personally I opt for chopsticks because I like to see myself as a cosmopolitan person, respectful of the traditions of other countries and well versed in their customs. Moreover, I take a certain pride in being able to use chopsticks “like the natives” and remember, for example, being quite pleased when a Japanese friend of mine remarked how skillfully I was handling my chopsticks. Image courtesy…

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