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Food Insecurity and the Making of the African Red Sea
World, 1818-1977  

Dr. Steven Serels

This study is the first in-depth analysis of the social, political and economic factors that have led to the endemic food crisis among pastoralist communities in Eastern Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Northern Somalia. Since the nineteenth century, these communities have suffered because their economic strategies were progressively eroded by a set of exploitative processes that allowed colonial states and a small group of non-state elites to seize locally managed resources. The loss of these resources negatively impacted the food security of the region and recurring food crises forced many to abandon traditional livelihoods and to seek out work either on largescale commercial agriculture schemes, in regional cities or in Gulf States. This project has four major goals: (1) to chart the shifting economics of pastoralism and to correlate these shifts with patterns of access to food; (2) to examine the relationship between repeated food crises and the establishment of modern states in the region; (3) to explore the ways that religious and lay indigenous elites coped with development of structural food insecurity; (4) to uncover the lived experience of the slaves held in bondage in the region during acute food crises.

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