Language Trails: ‘Lekker’ and Its Pleasures

Theory, Culture and Society 31 (2-3):93-119 (2014)

Abstract

This is an article about bodily pleasures, words and some of the relations between them. It is a turn in a conversation between the author and Marilyn Strathern. It talks theory, but not in general. Instead, this theory gets situated in traditions; specified; in relation to concerns; and exemplified with stories to do with the term lekker. This article is in English, but lekker is not an English term. It is Dutch. The stories come from long-term field work in various sites and situations close to home for the author, who is also Dutch. They were driven by a concern with fostering bodily pleasures in contexts such as nursing homes and dieting practices where nutrients and calories are granted more importance. The difficulties of translating lekker are used as a set of intellectual resources. In contrast to Strathern, the author insists on the fleshy particularities of the practices where lekker is spoken. Along with Strathern, the author seeks to escape nature/culture divides. Inspired by Strathern, the author follows lekker around merographically – that is, along iterative trails and between sites and situations that are connected, but only partially so. In homage to Strathern, finally, the author plays with the question of who the collective subject of anthropological theory – we – might be, and who belongs to the others that form its object – they.

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