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Title: Consuming expectations : an exploration of foodways in relation to health and maternity among Nepalis living in Norway
Author: Vidnes, Thea
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 8170
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis focuses on Nepalis living in Oslo and Ås, Norway, and ethnographically explores their food perceptions, habits and practices in relation to health and maternal health. With pre-existing experience of both biomedical and other understandings of health and wellbeing, the majority of my respondents could and did move between paradigms, on an individual basis deciding which to apply and when. Consequently, several demonstrated certain reasoned divergences from Norwegian state-endorsed dietary norms and expectations; differences that were, however, not simply reducible to ‘culture’. ‘Culture’ is shown here to be a favoured strategy of explanation within Norwegian public health research, which has dominated state health perceptions of all South Asians. Overall, four key arguments are advanced. Firstly, the need to disaggregate the category of ‘South Asian’, currently readily employed within public health research and policies worldwide to describe and problematise the foodways of highly diverse diaspora populations. The middle-class status of my Nepali respondents is delineated as a central example exposing the inaccuracy of such a homogenising generalisation. Secondly, that despite the hegemony of biomedical models of nutrition within health and ante-/postnatal wellbeing in Norway, my interlocutors moved between these and other ideas and practices of health and wellbeing. Describing their dietary habits and practices makes plain the narrowness of applying purely biomedically-predicated thinking to understanding these Nepalis’ foodways. Thirdly, that in ante-/postnatal care the biomedical model overprivileges the individual mother’s responsibility for her own health in order to benefit her child, ignoring the potential for alternative distributions of responsibility for, as well as emphasis on, both offspring and mother: the Nepalis I encountered showed a notable commitment to the mother’s wellbeing and also sense of pregnancy and postnatal care as a collective enterprise, relationally shaped. Fourthly, my Nepali respondents’ accounts provide a useful example demonstrating limitations to the perceived authority of Norwegian state advice on health in general. Well-informed and often highly educated, these Nepalis engaged only selectively with the state-endorsed guidance and services, instead drawing on other (re)sources – Nepali family and friends especially – to maintain health and wellbeing.
Supervisor: Parker, M. ; Staples, J. ; Liana, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: South Asian ; Diaspora ; Diet ; nutritionism ; public health ; Middle Class ; Ethnographic