From famine to food crisis. What history can teach us about local and global subsistence crises
The range of famine prone regions in the world has been shrinking for centuries; it’s currently mainly limited to sub-Sahara Africa. Yet the impact of endemic hunger has not declined and the early 21st century seems to be faced with a new threat: global subsistence crises. In this essay I question the concepts of famine and food crisis. I will formulate some suggestions to understand these seemingly unrelated processes in a more integrated way. The article successively debates historical famine research, Europe’s ‘grand escape’ from hunger, past and contemporary ‘depeasantisation’, and the state of 21st century food systems. Only more integrated models of interpretation can supersede the dualistic histories of food and famine that have been dominating developmentalist stories for so long.
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