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Environment, Food Security and Conflict Narratives in the Middle East

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The article questions neo-Malthusian theories that attempt to explain conflict and food security in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as the consequence of environmental stress factors like water scarcity, drought and climate change. Instead it argues that socio-political factors are key in understanding conflicts in the region. The environment is a quintessentially human category and susceptible to adaptation, not an external variable that mechanically triggers socio-political consequences. Particular emphasis is laid on the cases of Syria and Darfur. The article then shows how the natural endowments of the MENA shaped food security before the advent of oil and globalised food trade. It concludes with an attempt to find a balanced explanation of the role of environmental factors in MENA food security today.
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Keywords: Middle East and North Africa; climate change; environment; food security; neo-malthusianism; resource conflicts; water

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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