The Society for the End of Necropolitics: Unnatural Appetites and Numberless Victims. A Brief History of Starvation in South Asia.
with Madhusree Mukerjee and Natasha Ginwala

JUL
12
Talk and discussion
8–10 pm
Fridericianum, Friedrichsplatz 18, Kassel
Live stream available

Devastating famines were routine in British India, resulting from the way in which the colony was forcibly incorporated into the global economy. For almost two centuries, revenues flowed from the colony to its captor, contributing to the early industrialization of the United Kingdom while reducing India to a nation of paupers. “Civilization today caters to a whole population of gluttons,” wrote the poet Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. “A civilization which has attained such an unnatural appetite must, for its continuing existence, depend upon numberless victims.” Broadly speaking, colonialism, in conjunction with the slave trade, established the economic inequality between the First World and the Third World still evident today. Economic exploitation of colonies intensified during wars, causing the Bengal famine of 1943, which killed an estimated three million. Independence in 1947 led to substantial improvements in nutrition. In India, however, the trend has been halted or possibly even reversed by neoliberal “reforms” introduced in the 1990s, which reduced the nation’s economic sovereignty and plunged its agriculture into crisis. Even as India exports crops, farmers are committing suicide or abandoning agriculture at unprecedented rates, and almost ten percent of the population is in a state of incipient famine.


Madhusree Mukerjee is a journalist and author of two books, Churchill’s Secret War: The Ravaging of British India during World War II (Basic Books, 2010) and The Land of Naked People: Encounters with Stone Age Islanders (Houghton Mifflin, 2003).

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