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Growing hungry: The politics of food distribution and the shifting boundaries between urban and rural in Dar es Salaam

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'Growing Hungry' considers the continued relevance of Raymond Williams's seminal text, The Country and the City, through the case study of socialist era Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This article juxtaposes state and international rhetoric that sought to administer African development through fixity of populations while the livelihood of many of Tanzanians relied on travelling and living between city and country. Julius Nyerere, Tanzania's first president, was particularly driven to avoid the migration of urban Tanzanians to the city and developed a staunch anti-urban policy. This policy was accompanied by a moralising rhetoric that portrayed urbanites as slothful and obstacles to rural nation-building. And yet, as state channels for food distribution began to fail, as did attempts to depopulate the city, the state's new approach sought to turn as much of Dar es Salaam into agricultural space as possible and in the process make workers out of 'parasites'. Urban agriculture and family networks becomes key bulwarks against hunger in the city by the early 1980s and, somewhat ironically considering the state's anti-urban stance, this very act of ruralising the city expanded the city into its hinterland.

Keywords: Julius Nyerere; Raymond Williams; Tanzania; rural-urban migration; ujamaa; urban agriculture

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • 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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