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An Ethnography of Hunger
Politics, Subsistence, and the Unpredictable Grace of the Sun
Published by: Indiana University Press
In An Ethnography of Hunger Kristin D. Phillips examines how rural farmers in central Tanzania negotiate the interconnected projects of subsistence, politics, and rural development. Writing against stereotypical Western media images of spectacular famine in Africa, she examines how people live with—rather than die from—hunger. Through tracing the seasonal cycles of drought, plenty, and suffering and the political cycles of elections, development, and state extraction, Phillips studies hunger as a pattern of relationships and practices that organizes access to food and profoundly shapes agrarian lives and livelihoods. Amid extreme inequality and unpredictability, rural people pursue subsistence by alternating between—and sometimes combining—rights and reciprocity, a political form that she calls "subsistence citizenship." Phillips argues that studying subsistence is essential to understanding the persistence of global poverty, how people vote, and why development projects succeed or fail.
Introduction: Subsistence Citizenship
PART I: The Frames of Subsistence in Singida: Cosmology, Ethnography, History
Chapter 1 Hunger in Relief: Village Life and Livelihood
Chapter 2 The Unpredictable Grace of the Sun:
Cosmology, Conquest, and the Politics of Subsistence
PART II: The Power of the Poor on the Threshold of Subsistence
Chapter 3 We Shall Meet at the Pot of Ugali:
Sociality, Differentiation, and Diversion in the Distribution of Food
Chapter 4 Crying, Denying, and Surviving Rural Hunger
PART III: Subsistence Citizenship
Chapter 5 Subsistence versus Development
Chapter 6 Patronage, Rights, and the Idioms of Rural Citizenship
Conclusion: The Seasons of Subsistence and Citizenship
Kristin D. Phillips is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University. Her work has appeared in African Studies Review, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology, Comparative Education Review, and Critical Studies in Education.
Kristin Phillips has written a compelling, compassionate exploration of the social life of food and hunger in rural Tanzania. She masterfully evokes the voices and visions of everyday people seeking economic security and political justice in the face of deepening inequalities, a negligent state, and exploitative development projects. An Ethnography of Hunger should be read by anyone interested in the intersections of food, power, and sociality in agrarian communities." ~Dorothy L. Hodgson, author of Gender, Justice and the Problem of Culture: From Customary Law to Human Rights in Tanzania
This book presents an empirically detailed and powerfully argued analysis of how rural communities negotiate precarious livelihoods amidst pressures to participate in local development." ~Lisa Cliggett, author of Grains from Grass: Aging, Gender, and Famine in Rural Africa
"The book is ethnographically rich and presents us with new ways of thinking about development practices and environmental politics broadly defined. More importantly, An Ethnography of Hunger makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the relationship between power, politics and the environment. The book, for many years to come, will provoke intellectual debate about the place of politics and the environment in Tanzania, Africa, and beyond."~Political and Legal Anthrology Review
"Phillips's nuanced analysis of the lived experience of hunger, its embeddedness in social relationships, and its impact on political subjectivity are truly original and set this book apart from other anthropological studies of hunger, subsistence farming, or political subjectivity."~Jennie E. Gurnet - Georgia State University, African Studies Review
- SEA Book Prize