The politics of governing grain: the changing roles of staple crops and national food self-sufficiency in “food security”

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Development Geographies Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Economic Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (MDT)
Room: Napoleon C1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Organizers: Ilona Moore, Timothy Gorman
Chairs: Ilona Moore


This panel interrogates the role of staple grains (such as rice, maize, and wheat) to food security and development policy in the Global South, using the governance of grain as a window onto the governance of populations and nations. At the dawn of Green Revolution, the path to food security was widely seen to lead through the maximization of grain production, but the intervening decades have seen a dramatic shift in development orthodoxy and in the discourse and policy recommendations emanating from international institutions, which now encourage diversification, specialization, and trade in countries of the Global South, and discourage a single-minded focus on grain output and self-sufficiency. Over the past decade, however, the danger of relying on international markets to meet domestic consumption needs has become painfully clear, as global volatility has produced shortages and price hikes of key staples in the Global South, even contributing to riots and revolutions in places such as Mozambique, Egypt, and Haiti. In the face of such unrest, countries across the Global South have placed renewed emphasis on self-sufficiency in staple grains, in a marked divergence from neoliberal orthodoxy and from the tenets of free trade and comparative advantage.

This panel examines the contentious politics of staple grains at multiple scales (global, national, and local) and explore the impact of competing food security approaches on agrarian livelihoods and access to food in the Global South. This panel invites participation from those working in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, and participants will be invited to present contemporary and historical case studies that engage both domestic food security policies at multiple scales and/or the activities of international development institutions. These cases will then be positioned and discussion framed around the larger geopolitics of food, food-security, and food self-sufficiency. Special attention will be given to expanding the scope of inquiry around these issues in geography and to cultivating interdisciplinary conversations; to this end, scholars from other disciplinary backgrounds are invited to participate.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Jessica Barnes University of South Carolina 12
Discussant William Moseley Macalester College 12
Panelist Ilona Moore Bucknell University 12
Panelist Ryan Isakson University of Toronto - Scarborough 12
Panelist Timothy Gorman Cornell University 20
Introduction Ilona Moore Bucknell University 20

To access contact information login