Defining World Hunger: Scale and Neoliberal Ideology in International Food Security Policy Discourse

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Through a reading of policy texts centering upon food security published by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, I problematize the concept of food security by showing how its definition and its scale have changed over time. I use scale as an analytic frame to highlight how changing definitions of food security serve neoliberal ideology. The scaled definitions of food security move from an early emphasis upon the attainment of food security at the international and national levels to a micro-level focus upon households and gendered individuals. The most recent changes link individuals to global modalities of governance with an emphasis upon the instrumentality of agricultural productivity in economic development strategies. Considering the contested and dynamic construction of scale in relation to the changing definitions of international food security reveals the political and ideological dimensions of these dynamics and their contradictions with the material history of hunger over the last thirty years.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2011

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