The Precarious State of Famine Research

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


In 2017 famine struck yet again. While famine continues to haunt many fragile countries, the paper reveals a faltering scholarly interest in famine research, particularly within the research tradition of development studies. Today, the research field is rather dominated by the research traditions of history and economics. Interestingly, the steepest decline in scholarly attention to famine coincided with Amartya Sen being awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 in part for his work on famine. The paper points to three characteristics of famine research that might account for this rather puzzling development: (i) the field of contemporary famine research exhibits limited interest in theory-building; (ii) the field is impeded by inaccessibility to key research sites; and (iii) the field is weakened by a small and dispersed research community. The paper suggests remedies that might address these obstacles to contemporary famine research in development studies. To facilitate more theoretical development, scholars could engage with the recent call for a criminalisation of famine, and the broader field of disaster research could be used as an institutional catalyst for scholars of famine.
TidsskriftJournal of Development Studies
Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)1633-1653
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - 2019

Bibliografisk note

Important note from the Publisher regarding the attached version of the article: “This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Development Studies on 16 Jul 2018, available online:”

Citer dette