P12
Politicising hunger: famine, food security and political legitimacy in South Asia (19th & 20th century)

Convenors:
Joanna Simonow (ETH Zurich)
Saurabh Mishra (University of Sheffield)
Location:
Room 112
Start time:
27 July, 2016 at 14:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

The panel seeks to provide a historical perspective on the instrumentality of famines and food insecurity in competitions over legitimacy, authority and power. While the panel focusses on the regional and historical context of South Asia, it will have room to discuss potential global resonances.

Long abstract:

During the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, India experienced a series of major famines, which coincided with the consolidation of British rule in the subcontinent. Due to the prominence of famines during the period, a multitude of actors exploited them to enhance their sphere of influence, legitimacy and authority: Through the provision of relief and the articulation of critique of contemporary authorities, hierarchies and relationships were challenged or reproduced. In the second half on the twentieth century, 'hunger' remained high on the political agenda of the newly formed governments as the inability to ensure and maintain food security could erode the fragile basis of political legitimacy and authority. This panel seeks to provide a historical perspective on the instrumentality of famines in these competitions over legitimacy, authority and power. It also aims to illuminate the other related ways in which famines, hunger and politics were linked together. While the panel focusses on the regional and historical context of South Asia, it will also have room to discuss potential global resonances.