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Sugar for sustenance: Nutrition studies in French colonial Morocc

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In interwar Morocco, French colonial policies aimed to transform the country into an export-oriented agricultural economy in which one-time small farmers became wage labourers on large-scale monoculture enterprises. But as a rapidly urbanising population lost its own means of food production, Protectorate efforts to alleviate 'colonial malnutrition' and low standards of living focused on the accessibility and affordability of sugar for the indigenous population. Sugar provided not just an economically and physiologically efficient calorie source, it also meshed with the French ethnographic constructions of the Moroccan diet. This article shows how French officials struggled to reconcile scientific ideas about Moroccans' biological needs with their foundational belief in Moroccan cultural difference.
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Keywords: North Africa; Nutrition; colonialism; development; urbanisation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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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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