Abstract

In their seminal piece A Political Economy of the Food Riot, Patel and McMichael (2009) noted a recent reoccurrence of the age-old phenomenon of the food riot. They documented food riots in over 30 countries in 2007 and 2008, including Italy, India, Egypt and Haiti, and they considered both their manifestations and their deeper causes. An obvious proximate cause for these riots was the steep increase in food and other commodity prices that occurred around that time. These increases were passed on to customers and that put in particular the urban global poor under pressure. Patel and McMichael likened these protests to the infamous International Monetary Fund (IMF) riots that took place in the 1970s and 1980s. Walton and Seddon (1994) documented at least 146 of those, in particular in the Global South and in response to austerity programmes adopted by struggling national governments under pressure from the IMF and the World Bank. Patel and McMichael argue that the food riots from around 2007/2008 also find their origin in the influence of these global institutions on developing economies (Patel and McMichael, 2009). These institutions can be, and have been, accused of causing global harm by imposing austerity measures, and the removing wage structures and trade barriers, which eats away at the securities of much of the populations of these developing nations (Friedrich, 2012; Friedrichs and Rothe 2012; Klein, 2007). Patel and McMichael conclude that riots can be framed as important signs of resistance against these institutions and the policies that they impose.

Keywords

Sugar Maize Europe Shipping Income 

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© Francis Pakes 2014

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  • Francis Pakes

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