The Food System in Crisis - social movements, food insecurity and bio-politics
International Security, Crime, Terrorism & Conﬂict
The Food System in Crisis social movements, food insecurity and bio-politics
Dr Matt Reed
“Just as living things require inputs..so do cities.
That is cities cannot exist without those inputs urbanites require clean air, water, food, fuel and
construction goods to subsist …” pg.41
– David Kilcullen !
- “Out of the Mountains: The coming age of the urban guerilla” 2013
- The political ecology of understanding the creation of
the international order!
- Social movements and the challenge to existing orders!
- Linking the body and spaces of resistance
Key terms - political ecology,
climate, food security, food
system, social movement
theory, ordering, bio-politics!
Key thinkers - Davis, Castells,
Food Security - Increasing public policy concern
Projections of shortage - climate change, limits of
physical inputs (peak oil, water etc)!
Global demographic changes (young, southern)!
Urban-rural transition (urban, littoral, unplanned)!
Dietary transition (plants to meat)!
Changes to international order (rise of China, US
impacts on monsoon
Shifts in weather patterns
- ENSO - El Nino - Southern Oscillation!
- Global climatic change, irregular!
- shown as nations but regions effected!
- changes to heat/rain fall patterns
Droughts in Australia, China,
India and Southern Africa !
Profound impact on
particularly cereals (wheat,
corn, rice) but also pastoral
These are traded as
Making of the 3rd world
Davis argues that severe ENSO cycles in late 19th C allowed
imperial expansion, intersection of imperialist militarism,
global market and climate!
India, China - people often had higher standards of living and
were centres of industrial production - “Even outcaste
agricultural labourers in Madras earned more in real terms
than English farm labourers” p.55!
Whole of free trade system held up funds from Asian trade ‘the
starving Indian and Chinese peasantries were wheeled in as
unlikely saviours’ p58
“Nineteenth-century peasant producers in India
and China - and, to a lesser extent, in Brazil and
southern Africa - existed increasingly in the late
Victorian world market but not of it.” p54
Mike Davis, - Late Victorian Holocausts/The Origin of the Third World
“Between 1875-1900 - a period that included the
worst famines in Indian history - annual grain
exports increased from 3 to 10 million tons; as Dutt
pointed out, this quantity equaled the annual
nutrition of 25 million people.” p59
Contemporary China, and place names
- Massive ethnic violence and revolts!
- Imperial government forced to abandon mechanisms protecting
against ENSO induced famines!
- ‘Britain’s dominant role in Chinese foreign trade, built by
Victorian nacrotrafﬁcantes with gunboats, thus leveraged the
whole free trade imperium’ Davis p.60
19th Century China
British India - Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Burma
JAMMU & KASHMIR
The British Raj 19th Century
“If the history of British rule in were to
be condensed in a single fact, it is this;
there was no increase in India’s per
capita income from 1757 to 1947. There
was no economic development in the
usual sense of the term.” Davis p.63!
- Commercialisation of agriculture wheat, cotton, opium, indigo led to
impoverishment and starvation.!
- Raj choked off the development of
peasant agriculture into capitalist
Why all this talk of the 19th C?
Agricultural commodities - food (wheat, tea, coffee),
drugs (opium) & industrial inputs (indigo)!
Global trade and international order!
Consequences of ﬁnancialization of commodities for
Intersection of climatic variation and social systems.
Global/Arab Spring 2010 ❖
Food price spikes after ENSO events - draught/ﬂoods increased ﬁnancialization/speculation of food
US and Europe bio-fuels - food = fuel!
Urbanised populations very reliant on often subsidised
Then it all kicked off! [http://youtu.be/bu9YBJ_wp3I]
Social movement definitions
not one single organisation
may transcend class/gender/ethnicity!
support one another!
Transcending ‘normal’ politics!
Bearing witness - sincerity and sacriﬁce!
Numbers - mass protests!
Symbolic acts - images!
Cultural protest - tailored to the governance system!
Control of (urban) space
Hybrid urban spaces
"In our society, the public space of the
social movement is constructed as a hybrid
space between the Internet social networks
and the occupied urban
space: connecting cyberspace and urban
space in relentless interaction, constituting,
technologically and culturally, instant
communities of transformative practice.' p
Co-ordination across time/space !
Increase speed of communication and
Diffusion and availability
Protest movements 2008 - 2014
- Arab spring (Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Turkey,
Yemen, Bahrain) + protest in Iran!
- Occupy movement (US, UK …..)!
- Indignadas (Spain) + Greek & Italian protests!
- Brazilian protests
- Riots in the UK, Sweden and
- On-going protests in
- Suppressed peaceful Sunni
protests in Iraq
Stuffed & Starved
A focus of governance on the body !
The starved - those without food or
threat of insurrection!
The stuffed - those who’s bodies
are over fed!
threat of illness and drain !
Regulation of the body - medical
Also national security - competition
between nations - eclipse of liberal
“The body and everything that touches it: diet,
climate, and soil – is the domain of the Herkunft:
“The body manifests the stigmata of past
experience and also gives rise to desires, failings
and errors” (Foucault 1998:375)!
–Michel Foucault (1998:375)
Herkunft - descent - as discussed by Nietzche
The nexus of the global commodity chain written on the
Security in this context multifaceted - national, familial,
Food system vital in a wider political ecology !
Borders of the licit/illicit commodities - central role of
Opportunities not just for repression but revolt