An Ethnography of Hunger

An Ethnography of Hunger

Politics, Subsistence, and the Unpredictable Grace of the Sun
Kristin D. Phillips
Distribution: World
Publication date: 08/01/2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03837-1
Bookmark and Share

 Add to Wish List 

Other formats available:


This title is not yet available. You may pre-order this item and it will be shipped to you when it is available.

For years, the Western media has depicted Africa as a desperate place that is utterly primitive, starving, war torn, or wholly wild and unspoiled. In An Ethnography of Hunger, Kristin Phillips grapples with stereotypical, pervasive personal insecurities, such as whether there is enough to eat, in a rural farming community in central Tanzania. As Phillips began to understand cycles of drought, hunger, and suffering, she also realized that these material forces infused strength into relationships, events, structures, discourses, and practices that organize access to food and shape labor, language, politics, and livelihoods. Studying subsistence became essential to understanding persistent poverty and community solidarity as well as whether government development projects succeeded or failed. Phillips argues that food is impossible to leave at the margins of the complex and global networks of politics, economy, morality, patronage, and mutual support.

Author Bio

Kristin D. Phillips is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University. Her work has appeared in African Studies Review, Political and Legal Studies Review, Comparative Education Review, and Critical Studies in Education.


“Kristin Phillips has written a compelling, compassionate exploration of the social life of food and hunger, in rural Tanzania. She masterfully evokes the voices and visions of everyday people seeking economic security and political justice in the face of deepening inequalities, a negligent state, and exploitative development projects. An Ethnography of Hunger should be read by anyone interested in the intersections of food, power, and sociality in agrarian communities.”
 — Dorothy L. Hodgson, author of Gender, Justice and the Problem of Culture: From Customary Law to Human Rights in Tanzania

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Subsistence Citizenship

PART I: The Frames of Subsistence in Singida: Cosmology, Ethnography, History

Chapter 1 Hunger in Relief: Village Life and Livelihood

Chapter 2 The Unpredictable Grace of the Sun:

Cosmology, Conquest, and the Politics of Subsistence

PART II: The Power of the Poor on the Threshold of Subsistence

Chapter 3 We Shall Meet at the Pot of Ugali:

Sociality, Differentiation, and Diversion in the Distribution of Food

Chapter 4 Crying, Denying, and Surviving Rural Hunger

PART III: Subsistence Citizenship

Chapter 5 Subsistence versus Development

Chapter 6 Patronage, Rights, and the Idioms of Rural Citizenship

Conclusion: The Seasons of Subsistence and Citizenship