Course Description

Course Name

The Global Politics of Food

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Theories and issues relating to the global politics of food and agriculture

This paper provides a critical, historically-grounded introduction to one of the most important political, economic and social aspects of the contemporary world - food. The paper begins with the industrial revolution and identifies the factors that restructured how people feed themselves. An integral part of the industrial revolution was the expanding working class in England. During the 18th, 19th and into the 20th century this food system drew differing regions of the globe into close relations with each other - totally transforming the nature of local society and culture. In the 20th century this food system underwent another period of transformation as the industrial processing of food, the emergence of large food transnational corporations and the integration of ever widening portions of the globe into the world food system restructured world food relationships. These dramatic transformations are examined through the lens of Food Regime Theory which seeks to understand periods of stability and periods of transformational crisis in world food relations. The contemporary situation in world food relations can be argued to be entering one of these periods of transformational crisis. Characterised by the World Food Crisis of 2008, and increasing arrays of ecological shocks and threats, and dramatically changing cultural and political dynamics around food, this course seeks to understand the sociological bases around which a future world of food might take shape. The paper has proved of great interest to students who are:

Interested in critical political economy approaches that inform social scientific understandings of contemporary crises
Those interested in food activism and politics or issues around environmental sustainability and resilience
Those in traditional areas of food research who are looking for a wider social and historical context to the specific issues they are examining in other course

Course Structure
The four main sections of the paper are:
-Empires of Food: The Industrial/Imperial Food Regime
-The Second Food Regime
-Food under Neoliberalism: The Emerging Crises
-The New Politics of Food

Learning Outcomes
The aims of the course are to:
-Become familiar with an understanding of the political and social importance of food
-Understand different kinds of politics around food's production and consumption
-Appreciate the value of looking at history through food and its relevance today
-Grasp the complexity of food as it relates to the politics of resources, the environment and social justice

By the end of the paper students should be able to:
-Employ food regimes theory as a critical theoretical tool
-Critically examine research literature
-Compare and contrast the social impact of different kinds of commodities throughout history
-Explain basic concepts and theories related to a politics of food

The course does not use a single text book, but collected readings and documentaries about key topics in the course are made available through Blackboard.

*Course content subject to change