Annemarie Mol, professor of Anthropology of the Body at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), officially received the NWO Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific honour in the Netherlands, from State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science Halbe Zijlstra on Friday, 7 September 2012.
During the ceremony, she announced her plans for the prize money. In the first instance, Mol wants to invest her Spinoza Prize in expanding her research project Eating bodies in Western practice and theory, which takes a fresh look at:
what, in practice, are tasting, digesting, wasting, thriving, appreciating;
what ‘an eating body’ is and where it begins and ends;
how ‘eating’ enduringly changes the world.
Within her research group, Mol conducts case studies of eating practices. This involves the bringing together of different types of 'knowing', such as physiology, economics and the knowledge of the experienced cook. Various types of 'appreciation' can also be discerned. ‘Good food' can mean: cheap, efficient, good, enough, convenient, and so on, depending on the situation. How do all these registers of ‘knowing’ and ‘appreciation’ relate to each other in terms of eating practices? What can we learn more generally? These questions are central to the Mol’s research.
Mol also wants to use the Spinoza Prize to set up a global network of researchers concerned with 'eating, knowing and appreciation’, to foster the dialogue between the Western tradition and the ways of thinking and doing encountered in other traditions.
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awards the Spinoza Prize, worth 2.5 million euros, on an annual basis to a maximum of four Dutch researchers who rank among the absolute top of science both in the Netherlands and internationally. The scientists receive the prestigious prize for their outstanding and pioneering research. Besides Mol, microbiologist Mike Jetten (Radboud University Nijmegen), mathematician Ieke Moerdijk (Radboud University Nijmegen) and astronomer Xander Tielens (Leiden University) also received this year's prize.