A Cultural History of Famine
Food Security and the Environment in India and Britain
The term "food security" does not immediately signal research done in humanities disciplines. It refers to a complex, contested issue, whose currency and significance are hardly debatable given present concerns about environmental change, resource management, and sustainability.
The subject is thus largely studied within science and social science disciplines in current or very recent historical contexts. This book brings together perspectives on food security and related environmental concerns from experts in the disciplines of literary studies, history, science, and social sciences. It allows readers to compare past and contemporary attitudes towards the issues in India and Britain – the economic, social, and environmental histories of these two nations have been closely connected ever since British travellers began to visit India in the latter half of the sixteenth century. The chapters in this book discuss themes such as climate, harvest failure, trade, technological improvements, transport networks, charity measures, and popular protest, which affected food security in both countries from the seventeenth century onwards. The authors cover a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, and their chapters allow readers to understand and compare different methodologies as well as different contexts of time and place relevant to the topic.
This book will be of great interest to students and researchers of economic and social history, environmental history, literary studies, and South Asian studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Cultural History of Famine Ayesha Mukherjee 1. Famine and Food Security in Early Modern England: Popular Agency and the Politics of Dearth John Walter 2. Subsistence Crises and Economic history: A Study of Eighteenth Century Bengal Rajat Datta 3. Climate Signals, Environment, and Livelihoods in the Long Seventeenth Century in India Vinita Damodaran, James Hamilton, and Rob Allan 4. Famine Chorography: Peter Mundy and the Gujarat famine, 1630-32 Ayesha Mukherjee 5. Rivers, Inundations, and Grain Scarcity in Early Colonial Bengal Ujjayan Bhattacharya 6. Chaotic Interruptions in the Economy: Droughts, Hurricanes and Monsoons in Harriet Martineau’s Illustrations of Political Economy Lesa Scholl 7. Poorhouses and Gratuitous Famine Relief in Colonial North India Sanjay Sharma 8. Farming Tales: Narratives of Farming and Food Security in Mid-twentieth Century Britain Michael Winter 9. The Economy of Hunger: Representing the Bengal Famine of 1943 Amlan Das Gupta 10. Are We Performing Dearth or Is Dearth Performing Us, in Modern Productions of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus? Julie Hudson
Ayesha Mukherjee is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Exeter, UK.