Journal Article

“How little progress”? A political economy of postcolonial nutrition

As an important determinant of population health and a significant development in the history of twentieth-century medicine, nutritional science has received considerable critical attention in recent years. In sub-Saharan Africa, where food insecurity and nutritional deficiency weigh heavily on individual populations and the polities that govern them, the prevention and treatment of malnutrition has often reflected the relationship between health provisioning and dominant forms of political economy. The relationship between imperial politics and colonial-era biomedicine, inclusive of nutritional science, has received considerable attention. Western involvement in African health has, however, hardly diminished since the end of imperial rule. Despite this, historians have not adequately explored the role of Western politics in the development of postcolonial science. Through an exploration of prevailing discourses regarding nutrition in independent Africa, this article offers broad insights into the relationship between postcolonial anxieties and foreign policy objectives regarding Africa and the development of medical consensus.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.