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OCMO 2135 - Food Security in International Politics : the Middle East and Africa

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 66

Language of tuition : English

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Course Description

The global food crisis of 2008 has put food security on the map of policy makers. Skyrocketing prices and export restrictions by food exporters out of concern for their own food security led to grave concerns worldwide. This course introduces the multidisciplinary concept of food security and analyzes the driving factors behind the crisis such as slowing agricultural productivity growth, population growth, meatification of diets, financialization of food markets, water scarcity, climate change and biofuel production. It has a particular focus on the Middle East, the largest food importer of the world, and Africa, which is a food aid recipient so far, but which some regard as a possible future breadbasket. Beside current debates it takes a look at historical developments. It analyzes how the integration of development countries into a capitalist world economy, land tenure, social conflict and land reform have related to each other and what this can tell us about current debates surrounding international agro-investments. Those have been described as land grabs by some and as win-win scenarios by others. Based on an analysis of case studies it is asked what policy options exist on the level of nation states and international organizations. At the end of the course you will have an understanding of how global food markets and their supply chains work and how they influence politics and development options, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. You will know about the history of food regimes, the strategic significance of food provision and different forms of land tenure since the 19th century and how they have affected politics. You will be able to analyze contemporary food security challenges and relate them to broader economic development in general and water and energy issues in particular. You will also have a working knowledge of organizations and institutions that play a crucial role in the world of food politics and you will know which resources to consult for their ongoing analysis.


  • ATAY, Hazal (PhD student)
  • WOERTZ, Eckart (Senior Research Fellow)

Pedagogical format

This is a lecture course with active discussion in class. A lecture introduces various theories, historical developments and practical examples. The power point slides of each lecture will be posted on the course website after each lecture for individual follow-up work. Especially in the second part the course will rely on active participation and critical engagement of the students. Each week's readings will be discussed based on the respective summaries of individual students that will have been circulated to everybody ahead of the class.

Course validation

- Regular attendance and participation in class. - Careful, thoughtful and timely completion of all the assigned readings before each class. - A summary of one week's readings (ca. 2.000 words), the written version of which will be circulated in advance by email to the other students. An excellent presentation is marked by the ability to not only summarize the relevant readings but also by thoughtful and original analysis. Such an analysis usually draws on a synthesis of the readings with other materials such as the lectures, previous readings, news reports or past discussions. You will be asked to choose the topic of your summary at our first meeting (35% of grade, group work possible). - A substantial final paper (4k-5k words, ca. 15 pages), on one out of 4 umbrella topics (will be given by end of March, deadline paper submission is May 4) (65% of grade).


150 pages of reading per week.

Required reading

  • Robert L. Paarlberg, Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know. 2nd edition (New York: Oxford University Press 2013)
  • Weis, Anthony. The Global Food Economy : The Battle for the Future of Farming. London ; New York: Zed Books 2007)
  • Eckart Woertz, Oil for Food. The Global Food Crisis and the Middle East (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press 2013)

Plans de cours et bibliographies