Hungry Nation: Food, Famine, and the Making of Modern India


Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 0.5 X 9.0 inches | 1.06 pounds
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About the Author

Benjamin Robert Siegel is Assistant Professor of History at Boston University. In 2014, he won the Sardar Patel Award for 'the best doctoral dissertation on any aspect of modern India'.


'This is that rare book that is historically rooted and complex, yet strikingly contemporary. The issues of hunger and malnutrition continue to be on the agenda of policy makers and society at large in twenty-first-century India. Siegel gives this a complex history and background. Imperial administrators and nationalists, concerned social activists and scholars saw this in different, often contradictory ways. Yet the multiple lenses for viewing hunger, dearth, and public action in the middle of the last century can help with insights into our own times. This is a fine book, one not to be missed.' Mahesh Rangarajan, Ashoka University, India
'Hungry Nation is an elegantly written, compellingly argued, account of the central role played by food and famine in the making of modern India. Through careful archival research spanning different decades since the Great Bengal Famine, Benjamin Robert Siegel takes us further than anyone before him in understanding this important issue. Scholars in a variety of disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology, geography, political science, public policy, and public health will find much to admire and debate in these pages.' Akhil Gupta, University of California, Los Angeles
'Both entirely innovative in its approach to politics, and cunning in its summation of the complexity of the transition to postcoloniality, Hungry Nation will find a wide audience amongst scholars of South Asia, late empire, Cold War history, food studies, and environmental history. The value of his intervention is in Siegel's ability to use a deep, thorough reading of specific policy to illuminate a meta-conception of one of the key postcolonial challenges of the era: the responsibility of government to its citizens in the intimate, visceral experience of the sustenance of life through the relationship between food and body.' Rachel Berger, Concordia University, Montreal
'Siegel's book stands out among other works for its rich visual archive of Indian agrarian life ... this book should be widely read and debated by scholars interested in the twentieth-century history of postcolonial state making, agrarian transformation, and the politics of transnational developmental expertise.' Debjani Bhattacharyya, Environmental History