Power, Politics, and Profit: The History of Food Aid in Conflict and Protracted Crisis, SOAS – 4 December

3rd Dec 2018


Dr Susanne Jaspars (SOAS University of London), Professor Laura Hammond (SOAS University of London), Professor David Keen (LSE)

Power, Politics, and Profit: The History of Food Aid in Conflict and Protracted Crisis

Tuesday, 4 December, 5-7PM

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building

Food aid, and its withdrawal, has been used for a range of objectives: to support or undermine states or political movements, to save lives and support livelihoods, and to encourage self-reliance and – presently – resilience. In situations of conflict, states and leaders have diverted food aid to gain resources and authority or restricted it as part of counter-insurgency tactics. In the longer term, it becomes part of a country’s political economy. In this talk, Susanne Jaspars, launches her book Food Aid in Sudan: A History of Power, Politics and Profit (Zed Books, 2018). She examines the current context in Darfur of decreasing food aid and humanitarian assistance amidst ongoing conflict and violence, and how this came about, by analysing changes in regimes of food aid practices and its effects over a period of 50 years. She argues that changes in food aid practices were a result of a combination of changes in global politics and aid’s failure, and responses by the Sudan government and private sector. Food aid rarely had its intended effect but did have a number of political and economic effects – including the creation of Sudan’s own food aid apparatus. Susanne also argues that contemporary food-based resilience practices hide these political effects.

Susanne Jaspars is a Research Associate at SOAS. She has 30 years’ experience of research and operational work in the social and political aspects of food security, livelihoods and aid in situations of famine, conflict and humanitarian crisis. She recently completed a PhD at Bristol University examining the history and politics of food aid in Sudan. Prior to starting her PhD, Susanne worked as a Senior Research Fellow at ODI’s Humanitarian Policy Group in London. In addition toFood Aid in Sudan: A History of Power, Politics and Profit (2018), Susanne has published a number of books, articles and policy reports.Laura Hammond is Professor of Development Studies, SOAS University of London and GCRF Challenge Leader for Security, Protracted Conflict, Refugees and Forced Displacement. She also leads the London International Development Centre’s Migration Leadership Team and the EU Trust Fund’s Research and Evidence Facility for the Horn of Africa. She has taught at Clark University, the University of Reading, and was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Sussex. Laura’s research interests include food security, conflict, forced migration and diasporas. She has worked in the Horn of Africa for the past fifteen years, and has done consultancy for a wide range of development and humanitarian organisations. She is the author ofThis Place Will Become Home: Refugee Repatriation to Ethiopia (2004) and several chapters and journal articles.David Keen is Professor of Complex Emergencies at LSE. His study of the political economy of famine was published by Princeton University Press as The Benefits of Famine (1994). He is also the author of The Economic Functions of Violence in Civil Wars (1998), Endless War? Hidden Functions of the ‘War on Terror’ (2006) and Useful Enemies: When Waging Wars is More Important Than Winning Them (2012) as well as a number of other books and scholarly publications. He formerly worked as a researcher, consultant and journalist.

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All welcome, no need to book but please do arrive early to be sure of a seat. Details of all events in the seminar series are provided below. The venue is wheelchair accessible. We look forward to seeing you there.