Mary Douglas Memorial Lecture 2017: Gifts, entitlements, benefits and surplus

Gifts, entitlements, benefits and surplus: interrogating food poverty and food aid in the UK 

What constitutes the good society? is it one in which the state takes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens, or one in which the duty of care is handed over largely to the private and/or third or voluntary sectors? How can anthropologists contribute to the debates surrounding such questions? In this lecture, I will examine the case of food poverty in the UK and the solutions presently on offer. As Douglas noted, food is never just feed, and in order to comprehend some aspects of the contemporary situation we must attempt to grasp how a range of institutions such as food banks, the food industry and the state 'think' about food poverty, what they do about it and why, and how these actors are inter-related.


The annual lecture, in memory of Dame Mary Douglas (1921-2007), is sponsored by the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford, the Department of Anthropology at UCL, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and St Anne's College, Oxford.

For queries or to register to attend please contact Stacey Richardson.