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Hungry Nation
Food, Famine, and the Making of Modern India

$28.00 USD

  • Date Published: March 2018
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108695053

$ 28.00 USD
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About the Authors
  • This ambitious and engaging new account of independent India's struggle to overcome famine and malnutrition in the twentieth century traces Indian nation-building through the voices of politicians, planners, and citizens. Siegel explains the historical origins of contemporary India's hunger and malnutrition epidemic, showing how food and sustenance moved to the center of nationalist thought in the final years of colonial rule. Independent India's politicians made promises of sustenance and then qualified them by asking citizens to share the burden of feeding a new and hungry state. Foregrounding debates over land, markets, and new technologies, Hungry Nation interrogates how citizens and politicians contested the meanings of nation-building and citizenship through food, and how these contestations receded in the wake of the Green Revolution. Drawing upon meticulous archival research, this is the story of how Indians challenged meanings of welfare and citizenship across class, caste, region, and gender in a new nation-state.

    • The first comprehensive historical account of independent India's struggle to provide food for all in the twentieth century
    • Draws from archival sources in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and English collected from archives on three continents
    • Juxtaposes the accounts of politicians, bureaucrats, and planners with those of citizens themselves
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is that rare book that is historically rooted and complex, yet strikingly contemporary. The issues of hunger and malnutrition continue to be on the agenda of policy makers and society at large in twenty-first-century India. Siegel gives this a complex history and background. Imperial administrators and nationalists, concerned social activists and scholars saw this in different, often contradictory ways. Yet the multiple lenses for viewing hunger, dearth, and public action in the middle of the last century can help with insights into our own times. This is a fine book, one not to be missed.' Mahesh Rangarajan, Ashoka University, India

    'Hungry Nation is an elegantly written, compellingly argued, account of the central role played by food and famine in the making of modern India. Through careful archival research spanning different decades since the Great Bengal Famine, Benjamin Robert Siegel takes us further than anyone before him in understanding this important issue. Scholars in a variety of disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology, geography, political science, public policy, and public health will find much to admire and debate in these pages.' Akhil Gupta, University of California, Los Angeles

    'Both entirely innovative in its approach to politics, and cunning in its summation of the complexity of the transition to postcoloniality, Hungry Nation will find a wide audience amongst scholars of South Asia, late empire, Cold War history, food studies, and environmental history. The value of his intervention is in Siegel's ability to use a deep, thorough reading of specific policy to illuminate a meta-conception of one of the key postcolonial challenges of the era: the responsibility of government to its citizens in the intimate, visceral experience of the sustenance of life through the relationship between food and body.' Rachel Berger, Concordia University, Montreal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2018
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108695053
    • contains: 12 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Bengal famine and the nationalist case for food
    2. Independent India of plenty
    3. Self-help which ennobles a nation
    4. The common hunger of the country: merchants and markets in plenty and want
    5. All the disabilities which peasant and land can suffer
    6. The ideological origins of the Green Revolution
    Conclusion. Landscapes of hunger in contemporary India.

  • Author

    Benjamin Robert Siegel, Boston University
    Benjamin Robert Siegel is Assistant Professor of History at Boston University. In 2014, he won the Sardar Patel Award for 'the best doctoral dissertation on any aspect of modern India'.

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