Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

The new famines: Why famines persist in an era of globalization
Published by Routledge
Edited by Stephen Devereux (IDS, Sussex)

Contemporary famines are either deliberately created or allowed to happen. This new collection argues for a conceptual shift in famine analysis: from understanding famines as failures of food availability or access, to understanding famines as failures of response.

Theoretical contributions include:

  • critical reassessments of Sen’s ‘entitlement approach’ and de Waal’s ‘New Variant Famine’ hypothesis on the role of HIV/AIDS;
  • a disaggregated application of the ‘democracy ends famine’ argument to two Indian states;
  • a critique of the claims of biotechnology to ending famine, and an argument for the criminalisation of mass starvations.
New concepts introduced in this collection include ‘famine intensity and magnitude scales’, ‘pre-modern, modern, and post-modern’ famines, ‘hidden famines’, and ‘priority regimes’. Case studies include famines that have occurred since the 1980s in Ethiopia, Sudan, Malawi, Madagascar, Iraq and North Korea, and a ‘near-famine’ in Bosnia.


  1. Introduction: from ‘old famines’ to ‘new famines’
  2. Famine scales: towards an instrumental definition of ‘famine’
  3. The criminalization of mass starvations: from natural disaster to crime against humanity
  4. Sen’s entitlement approach: critiques and counter-critiques
  5. AIDS, hunger and destitution: theory and evidence for the ‘new variant famines’ hypothesis in Africa
  6. Pre-modern, modern and postmodern famine in Iraq, 1990-2003
  7. Malawi’s first famine, 2001-2002
  8. An atypical urban famine: Antananarivo, Madagascar 1985-1986
  9. North Korea as a ‘new’ famine
  10. Why do famines persist in the Horn of Africa? Ethiopia 1999-2003
  11. Increased rural vulnerability in the era of globalization: conflict and famine in Sudan during the 1990s
  12. Why are there no longer ‘war famines’ in contemporary Europe? Bosnia besieged, 1992-1995
  13. Is democracy the answer? Famine prevention in two Indian states
  14. Can GM crops prevent famine in Africa?
  15. Priority regimes and famine.
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