Wednesday, December 14, 2011

recent activities, fall 2011

The 2011 - 2012 academic session is now upon us. This year I will only be teaching our first year introduction to international development, Human inequality in global perspective. In addition to my administrative responsibilities as Chair of the Department, I will continue my advisory work for the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative of the United Nations Development Programme. This will see me travel to Korea, Bahrain and possibly Senegal as the Initiative is 'rolled out' into Asia and the Pacific as well as the Middle East and North African regions. I also will be continuing to revise my current research on land grabbing in the developing world. As usual, it will be busy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

food movements unite!

Food Movements Unite! is a new book edited by Eric Holt-Giménez and Annie Shattuck. It provides a sector by sector road map for bringing the tremendous transformative potential of the world’s food movements together into a powerful transnational force capable of ending the injustices that cause hunger.

Food Movements Unite! from Food First on Vimeo.

Congratulations to Food First for bringing together such an extraordinary range of contributors, and for facilitating a vision of a different food future.

occupy your democracy

The single most important Robert Reich clip you can share today; it’s two minutes and sixteen seconds of pure common sense that you can share with everyone.

The Single Most Important Robert Reich Clip You Can Share Today

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How to write about Africa

An excellent article by Binyavanga Wainaina originally published in Granta 92 that challenges us to rethink our assumptions.

Page 1 | How to Write about Africa | Granta 92: The View from Africa | Magazine | Granta Magazine

Thanks Laura for directing this to me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

the case for an alternative economic strategy

Jayoti Ghosh is one of the best heterodox development economists working today. Here is her recent prescription for equitably fixing the global economy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Overpopulation: the making of a myth

An excellent tutorial introduction as to the creation of the myth that the world is overpopulated.

As some students have remarked, in the words of Raj Patel, 'scratch a Malthusian and you'll find a racist.'

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The right to food in Canada: inputs to the forthcoming mission to Canada of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food

On 27 October while on mission in Korea for the United Nations Development Programme I along with several others received a request from the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to provide inputs to frame his forthcoming mission to Canada in May 2012. As none of what I have said is confidential, I thought I would share what I think should be the focus of the mission:

i. Issues
a. continuing food insecurity is a fact of life across much of the country – the use of food banks was at a historic high in 2010 and growth was most rapid in the fastest-growing part of Canada, Alberta. More information can be found at and in particular Hunger Count 2011, available at There are systemic violations of the right to food in Canada.

b. the threat to small-scale 'family' farming across the breadth of Canada continues to rise as high costs and low incomes facilitate the ongoing consolidation of large-scale export-oriented farms. More information can be found at, who as recently as May 2011 produced a policy brief on these processes for Ontario, available at Despite being a massive producer of food, Canada does not have food sovereignty.

c. in western Canada the threat to small-scale 'family' farming has been deepened by the Federal Government's Bill C-18, the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act. This bill abolishes the sole-purchaser role of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) (which also buys barley), which currently negotiates bulk commodity prices on behalf of western grain farmers with the global grain-buying companies to whom the CWB sells. The clear intention is to enable global grain-buying companies to buy directly from farmers, forcing them into competition with each other, and thus driving down prices. While this will benefit large-scale farms that reap economies of scale, small-scale grain farmers incomes' will fall. More information can be found at, while the Government's position can be found at Bill C-18 will make securing food sovereignty more difficult.

d. the consolidation of corporate concentration in input provision, food traders, processors and supermarkets is ongoing in Canada. This is clearly documented every year in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System, a summary of which can be found at The complete report must be ordered from the ministry. The issues surrounding corporate concentration in the food system are similar in Canada to those facing some other developed capitalist countries, and stand in clear contradiction to the concept of food sovereignty.

ii. Populations
a. aboriginal Canadians living in more remote parts of the country witness specific violations of the right to food. Food is much more expensive than in urban Canada, and particularly perishable fresh food. This can be documented at, although the data is not current. Also of note is the dated One result of expensive fresh food is a need for food baskets to rely on processed foods, which in turn produce a concomitant tendency towards food-based health problems. For example, the link between food security and aboriginal diabetes is explicitly recognized (, and has resulted in Federal government intervention (
b. in addition, over the past few decades environmental changes have reduced the supply of indigenous foods and indigenous food knowledge has more generally declined amongst aboriginal Canadians ( This compromises the ability of aboriginal Canadians to achieve food sovereignty.
c. in many parts of Canada access to indigenous foods requires access to lands from which aboriginal Canadians were expelled long before the 21st century. Thus, ongoing land claims across the country have implications for the right to food amongst aboriginal Canadians (,

iii. Programs and initiatives
a. the interest in food access, quality and production issues amongst urban Canadians in their late teens and early twenties and in tertiary education is quite remarkable, where there is a growing explicit awareness of food sovereignty as a means of achieving the right to food (for example, Canadian civil society takes food issues very seriously.
b. in addition to the National Farmer's Union ( and Slow Food Canada ( there are a number of civil society groups organized around food (for example,; a comprehensive list can be found at
c. the Toronto Food Policy Council is widely recognized as a model for community mobilization around improved access to and control over the local food system (

I am looking forward to the Special Rapporteur's mission with great interest.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Glen, Gary and Ross: a film about land grabs

An excellent short video from Oxfam that explains the motivations behind land grabbing in developing countries.

Friday, September 2, 2011

recent activities, summer 2011

The 2010 - 2011 academic session has all but ended, which means that now I am entering, as usual, my 'busy' time of the year. I have just recently returned from facilitating a Training of Trainers Workshop for the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative - Rwanda in Gisenyi, Rwanda. In the next few weeks I should be facilitating a workshop for the United Nations Development Programme's Regional Bureau for Africa. I will then head to Emory University in Atlanta, to do some teaching on the Global Master's in Development Practice. In June I will return to Dakar, and the United Nations African Institute of Economic Development and Planning, to facilitate a Training of Trainers Workshop for the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative - Africa. Towards the end of June I will travel to Livingstone, Zambia, to facilitate a week-long short course on gender and economic policy for the Zambian Ministry of Finance. All in all, a very busy few months!

Crash club: when sputtering economies collide

Trust Mike Davis to tell it like it is. It is going to be a difficult few years.

Crash club: when sputtering economies collide - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Freedom for Palestine

A week ago I transited through Johannesburg -- my first time in South Africa. I found it quite ironic that I arrived in O.R. Tambo International Airport -- I am sure that I was the only person on the plane that had actually met Oliver Tambo, as the African National Congress headquarters in London during the apartheid years was just down the street from where I was living.

South Africa in the 1980s. Palestine in the 2010s. Different time, same struggle.

Thanks to David McNally for directing me to this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

the curious case of the missing recovery

Join Jim Stanford in this excellent search for Canada's economic recovery.

My thanks to Brian Robinson for showing me this.

"Every 30 minutes": crushed by debt and neoliberal reforms, Indian farmers commit suicide at staggering rate

A quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years—an average of one suicide every 30 minutes. The crisis has ballooned with economic liberalization that has removed agricultural subsidies and opened Indian agriculture to the global market. Small farmers are often trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt, leading many to take their lives out of sheer desperation. Democracy Now! speaks with Smita Narula of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of an excellent new report on farmer suicides in India.

Thanks to Peter Mollinga for drawing my attention to this.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The death of Osama bin Laden

An excellent personal reflection by Richard Jackson on the meaning of the death of Osama bin Laden, published in The Hindu, India's best newspaper.

The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : The death of Osama bin Laden: it's a pity …

My thanks to Sharada to forwarding it on to me.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Painful staffing cuts ahead

It has been drawn to my attention that there is a malicious rumour circulating that I am advising upper-year students at Trent University to reconsider completing their degree in Peterborough. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this recent interview in the Arthur makes clear.

Painful staffing cuts ahead

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dorothy Millar Osborne-Stewart, 22 April 1934 - 16 April 2011

I am sad to announce that my mother, Dorothy Miller Osborne-Stewart, passed away on 16 April 2011 at the Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary following a brief battle with cancer, at the age of 76 years.

She was born in Darvel, Scotland on 22 April 1934, the daughter of James Miller Osborne and Dorothy Asquith. She was evacuated to Loch Katherine during World War II, attended school in Musselburgh, East Lothian, and worked as a golf caddy at Gleneagles, before moving to Glasgow, where she studied nursing. After living in Hainault, Cumbernauld and Cambuslang she immigrated to Port Arthur, Ontario on 27 June 1967, and in Thunder Bay she became very well known in the community for her professional social work, particularly tending to the needs of the homeless and the abused. She opened Thunder Bay’s first shelter for abused teenage girls, and subsequently two shelters for battered women. In the late 1970s she was the first person in Ontario to be granted a divorce for mental cruelty. In 1980 she met John Stewart, marrying in 1985 and eventually moving to Winnipeg, where she was the founding director of that city’s Ronald MacDonald House. In 1986 she moved to Manitou and retired with John, her cats, and her dog. Following John’s death she moved to Coleman, Alberta in 1997, where she lived with her beloved dog Kelpie and devoted herself to her garden and her cooking.

She will be dearly and deeply missed by her children, Haroon Akram-Lodhi of Toronto and Soraiya Boland of Calgary; and by her grandchildren Cameron Lodhi and Róisín Lodhi, both of Toronto.

A person with a profound sense of warmth and generousity to all, she was predeceased by John in 1990 and her sister Margaret in 2010.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

current activities, winter 2011

With snow falling in southern Ontario, winter has arrived. My teaching of IDST - ANTH 2210Y, Agrarian change, peasants and food production in a global context, has resumed, and is going well, while my administrative duties as Chair of the Department of International Development Studies continue. In January and March I will be giving seminars on my forthcoming paper on the global land grab and its implications for the world food system, while in February and March I will be working in Dakar and Tunis on the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative Project of the United Nations Development Programme.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


It is International Women's Day. Here's the truth.

Thanks to Norah for passing this on.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the voice of freedom

On every street in my country, the voice of freedom calls.

From Tahrir Square, The Voice of Freedom by Sout Al Horeya:

Friday, January 28, 2011

events in Egypt: background

As tens of thousands are on the streets of the cities of Egypt, it appears that members of the security forces are starting to refuse to follow their orders. If the uprising is to be successful, this must happen. Jack Shenker, who is on the ground in Cairo sending continual reports for The Guardian, has today written this short but accurate account of the background to the current unrest in Egypt, which puts it in its appropriate context. The media is portraying the uprising as being driven by young, tech-savvy educated and underemployed men and women. Shenker sets the record straight. I reproduce part of the account in full:

"It was a 2008 strike by textile workers in the Nile Delta town of Mahalla al-Kubra that fired the imagination of many of those on the streets today. The three people shot dead by security forces during the Mahalla unrest on 16 April inspired an online movement which took its name from the date.

The traditional working class from all corners of the country has continued to provoke and inspire dissident activity ever since, occupying pavements outside parliament for weeks on end to highlight the devastating impact of the neoliberal reforms pursued by the ruling NDP party. Some trade unions – most notably the real estate tax collectors – have gone on to break free from state control.

Away from the economic concerns, anger at police corruption and brutality has been at the heart of the new wave of protest."

To which, of course, one must add the authoritarian corruption and brutality of the Mubarak regime.

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