The Consuming Body


The Consuming Body and Markets, PhD Seminar, Edinburg, Texas, 21-27 Jun 2012

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Ph.D. Seminar
The Consuming Body and Markets
University of Texas—Pan American (UTPA)

Site: UTPA, Edinburg, Texas
Date: June 21-27, 2012
Faculty: Antonio A. Casilli, Telecom ParisTech, France
A. Fuat Firat, University of Texas—Pan American, USA
Michele B. Goodwin, University of Minnesota, USA
Elizabeth C. Hirschman, Rutgers University, USA
Michael Minor, University of Texas—Pan American, USA
Jeff B. Murray, University of Arkansas, USA
Cory Wimberly, University of Texas—Pan American, USA
Mohammad Ali Zolfagharian, University of Texas—Pan American, USA

Objective of the Seminar

Although the impact of consumption and marketing on the body, the body image, and health have been studied extensively, studies of the influences of the human body and its different organs on consumers and on marketing are only recently beginning to be investigated. The ‘body’, however, entails more than the human body; it entails the body politic and the body social, and their organs. The key purpose of this seminar is to familiarize doctoral students attending the seminar in some depth about the state of knowledge regarding the effects of the human body on consumers and markets, and explore significant theoretical implications of this recent knowledge. The seminar faculty will also spend some time in exploring the theoretical implications of the body politic and the body social for markets and the consumer. The role of the body is changing with transformations in culture and technologies, leading, for example, to theories of the post-human body. Findings along neuroscience and brain activity have also begun to impact marketing insights. Specifically, the intersection between marketing institutions and the body will be explored. This intersection regulates, facilitates, and modifies the body in important ways. Indeed, a large sector of economy is devoted to the body; think of the fashion, leisure, diet, fitness, pharmaceutical, and body adornment industries. In 1996, tattooing was the sixth fastest growing industry. Currently, lipoplasty, eyelid surgery, breast implants, nose jobs, facelifts, and Botox injections are quickly becoming the norm.

The attention to the body as a factor in human life has been more popular in other disciplines (cf. Jaggar and Bordo 1989; Bordo 1993, 2000; Featherstone 1982). Attention to the body in consumer research and marketing is more recent (cf. Dietvorst 2009; Shiv 2005), although a pioneering piece by Thompson and Hirschman (1995) did address poststructuralist perspectives in consumer body images. The more recent turn in this interest is to understand the body and its organs as a factor in the construction of consumption, rather than a consequence of consumption behaviors. Consequently, this seminar will be pioneering in bringing together faculty and doctoral students who are interested in the influence of the body on consumption and marketing, as well as in providing doctoral students, who have such an interest, guidance and insights in theoretical and methodological implications of doing such work.

This seminar is sponsored partially by funds from the Association for Consumer Research and from the caQtus collaborative.

Seminar Outline

All students accepted to join the seminar will be sent a readings list about 2 months prior to the start date (June 21, 2012). They are expected to come to the seminar having read the material.

On the first day of the seminar, students will make a brief (10 minutes) presentation of their research project and receive feedback from the faculty and other students. The following days will include presentations and exercises led by the seminar faculty and guest scholars. During each day of the seminar, students are encouraged to make appointments with faculty for one-on-one discussions of their research interests. Students can also expect to be engaged in one-on-ones and group discussions with other students during breaks, at meals, and during the evenings. On the last day of the seminar, each student will make a presentation on how their research project is modified based on the inspirations from the seminar and receive feedback (followed by a gala dinner party). Two months after the seminar, each student will turn in a paper to be read by at least two of the faculty members. The paper will be related to the student’s research project and can be a research proposal or research paper, or a conceptual piece (this will be discussed in more detail at the seminar).

Seminar Coordinator

A. Fuat Firat
Department of Marketing, College of Business Administration
University of Texas—Pan American
1201 West University Drive, Edinburg, Texas 78539, USA
Tel: +1 956 665 2092; Fax: +1 956 665 2085; e-mail:

Faculty Profiles

Antonio A. Casilli is Associate professor in Digital Humanities at Telecom ParisTech and researcher in sociology at the Edgar Morin Centre, School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS, Paris). His main research foci are computer-mediated communication and health behaviors, social network analysis, digital cultures and critical digital humanities, and ethno-computational methods and agent-based simulations for social science. His recent projects include a Fondation CIGREF study on online privacy and a UK-based survey on riots and civil unrest. Since 2009, he has been coordinating an international ANR research project focusing on pro-ana social networks and online communities of European teenagers and young adults advocating eating disorders. He has authored three books: Les liaisons numériques [The Digital Relationships], Stop Mobbing, and La Fabbrica Libertina [The Libertine Factory]. He also edited a mini-symposium on the body in Internet culture in the French journal Esprit and a special issue of the journal Communications on computer cultures. He has multiple journal articles addressing the social, the body, computers, and viruses. He runs the research blog His twitter feed is @bodyspacesoc.

A. Fuat Firat is Professor of Marketing at the University of Texas—Pan American. His research interests cover areas such as macro consumer behavior and macromarketing; postmodern culture; transmodern marketing strategies; gender and consumption; brand theory; marketing and development; and interorganizational relations. His has won the Journal of Macromarketing Charles Slater Award for best article with co-author N. Dholakia, and the Journal of Consumer Research best article award with co-author A. Venkatesh. He has published several books including Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theaters of Consumption, co-authored by N. Dholakia, and is the founding editor of Consumption, Markets & Culture.

Michele Goodwin is the Everett Fraser Professor in Law at the University of Minnesota. She holds joint appointments at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Professor Goodwin served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and as a Visiting Scholar at the University of California-Berkeley. She was honored with a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Griffith University in Australia. Prior to law teaching, Goodwin was a Gilder-Lehrman post-doctoral fellow at Yale University. Goodwin’s research concerns the role of law in the promotion and regulation of medicine, science, and biotechnology. She is a prolific author and internationally renowned scholar. She researches and teaches in the areas of torts, property, biotechnology, bioethics, and identity. She is the author/editor of several books, including Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Human Body Parts (Cambridge University Press, 2006)(Portuguese translation 2008); Baby Markets (Cambridge University Press, 2009); The Black Body: Reading, (Re)Writing, and (Re) Imagining (University of South Africa Press, Goodwin et. al, 2009); Biotechnology and Bioethics (Lexis/Nexis Goodwin & Paris, 2012), and Altruism’s Limits (Cambridge University Press 2012). Goodwin’s current manuscript in progress, Policing The Womb, interrogates social, legal, and political structures that define aspects of reproduction in the United States, creating status hierarchies, which bleed into legal rights and shape cultural norms.

Elizabeth C. Hirschman has published over 200 journal articles and academic papers in marketing, consumer behavior, sociology, psychology and semiotics. She is past President of the Association for Consumer Research and American Marketing Association-Academic Division. Professor Hirschman was named one of the Most Cited Researchers in Economics and Business by the Institute for Scientific Information in 2009; this recognition is given to the top .5% of scholars in a given field.

Michael S. Minor is professor of marketing and international business at the University of Texas-Pan American. He has served as a department chair and as director of the PhD and undergraduate programs at UTPA. He has developed and now coordinates a Certificate in Entertainment Studies, and has served as chair for nearly a dozen dissertations. He currently directs a dissertation involving celebrities in marketing. Minor has published in Journal of Retailing, Journal of Advertising, Psychology and Marketing, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Advertising Research, Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Journal of Consumer Marketing, and elsewhere. He is a coauthor of textbooks in consumer behavior (Donovan, Mowen and Minor, Understanding Consumer Behavior, 2014) and international business (Geringer, Minor and McNett, International Business, 2012).   His current research interests are in neuroscience applications in marketing, design aesthetics, social networks and the robot-human interface. He leads the New Hallelujah Band at his church. He fritters his spare time away on guitar, harmonica, dulcimer, and mandolin, and audits ethnomusicology classes at UTPA.

Jeff B. Murray (Ph.D. Virginia Tech) is Department Chair and R. A. and Vivian Young Professor of marketing in the Department of Marketing, Walton College, University of Arkansas. Professor Murray has taught in the undergraduate program, the Full-Time MBA program, the Managerial MBA program and the Executive MBA program in Shanghai, China. He also teaches a seminar in Consumer Culture Theory in the marketing doctoral program. Professor Murray’s doctoral students, who are now professors, teach at major universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. His research focuses on ethnography, semiotics, critical marketing, and the sociology of the body. Professor Murray has taught courses or doctoral seminars in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. His research has appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Macromarketing, Journal of Consumer Policy, American Behavioral Scientist, and Consumption, Markets and Culture. He remains active in the American Marketing Association, the Association for Consumer Research, and the American Sociological Association. In 2002, Professor Murray won the Outstanding All-Around Professor Award as well as the prestigious Charles and Nadine Baum Faculty Teaching Award at the University of Arkansas. Professor Murray resides in Fayetteville, Arkansas with his wife and son.

Cory Wimberly is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas—Pan American. He works in Social and Political Philosophy and specializes in poststructuralist approaches with a focus on the work of Michel Foucault. He has published primarily on issues relating to liberalism including war, freedom, subjectivity, and the social sciences. Wimberly is currently working on a book about the birth of public relations from the liberal state, especially its propaganda arm.

Mohammad Ali Zolfagharian is chair and assistant professor of marketing and applied anthropologist at the Department of Marketing, University of Texas–Pan American, Edinburg, Texas. His research interests include consumer (culture) behavior, services, and social/macro marketing using both quantitative and qualitative (i.e., ethnographic) approaches. His research is published in several books and journals such as Decision Sciences Journal, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Journal of Consumer Marketing, and Services Marketing Quarterly. He has collaborated with or provided consulting to several organizations including Motorola, Hospice, The Entrepreneur Authority, and City of McAllen.

Application Process

Applicants are asked to send a 750-1200 word letter of interest indicating their interests for their dissertation research or research otherwise planned, and the fit of this seminar within their doctoral program. This letter of interest can be accompanied with a letter from the applicant’s dissertation committee chair or a member of the dissertation committee. All submissions must be e-mailed to by the application deadline (February 15, 2012). Acceptance decisions will be made by March 1, 2012. There will be a fee of 1,500 USD that will cover accommodations for the days of June 20-27, inclusive, all meals for the seminar dates of June 21-27, and transportation between the airport and the seminar site. Applicants can apply for partial support from the funds received from the Association for Consumer Research.

Site Information

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