Assistant Professor of International Relations Ilona Moore gave a presentation about her ongoing research of food scarcity in India on Feb. 13. These faculty-feature events are organized by the University’s Center for Social Science Research. They provide professors with the opportunity to share their research with the University community and prompt ongoing conversations about their current research goals.
Moore is currently preparing a book manuscript entitled “The Regime of ‘Feeding the World’: Governing Hunger and Development in the Making of Modern Agriculture.” The manuscript examines the current condition of inequality through the lens of hunger. In particular, she is interested in the rationale that operates in feeding the world. “I begin with the fact that there is increasing hunger and I look at the logic of development, food, and agriculture,” Moore said.
In her talk, Moore emphasized that we must understand and engage with the world in order to perceive how we currently diagnose and resolve issues. She went on to contemplate that “the kind of logic we see playing out in the Global Food Crisis has been playing out for decades longer in South Asia.”
For example, India contains a quarter of the world’s surplus of wheat and the Indian government allocates millions of taxpayer dollars to dispose of rotten surplus food. Yet, despite a booming GDP, two-thirds of Indian children are malnourished, 90 percent of rural adults are anemic, and 50-90 percent of the country experience food insecurity. Therefore, there is a clear disconnect between the amount of available food in India and the number of people who need food in India. Moore explores how to grapple with these paradoxes and contradictions in her manuscript.
Moore also emphasized how food security is redefined as an issue of poverty. While a nation might be food secure, some individuals in that nation may not be and vice versa. “What determines hunger is our entitlement relations,” Moore said. The most relevant relations include what we can do with the money we earn, as well as legal entitlements such as food stamps. These relations can assist in allocating food toward those in need.
Moore’s research allows people to be more educated and aware of the pressing issue of food scarcity around the world. In addition, she explained how it has become even more evident how social science operates as a force field in organizing the world when trying to find a solution.