Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Department of History, Fordham University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of California / Berkeley
The International Politics of Food: Egypt, India, and U.S. Development Aid

In the 1950s and 1960s, states across the decolonizing world began to rely on massive quantities of American agricultural surpluses, which the U.S. government sold at below-market prices as food aid under Public Law 480 (P.L. 480). Egypt and India, two non-aligned states recently independent from the British Empire, became the largest importers in per capita and absolute terms, respectively, of P.L. 480 aid before the 1970s. My dissertation narrates the history and pre-history of U.S. food aid to Egypt and India. It explores the links—which the existing scholarship has quietly acknowledged yet failed to explain—between the development and welfare experiments under the British Empire and U.S. development efforts after World War II. Encompassing a period from the late nineteenth century until the 1970s, it considers, in particular, how ideas about population and food supply, the politics of welfare, and changes in landed property relations in Egypt, India, and the U.S. influenced the history of P.L. 480. The dissertation suggests that, if a similar set of development ideas and institutions took shape within the same moment across various regions of the decolonizing world, this was not, as scholars often contend, because of the overbearing influence of a Western-origin development discourse. It was because of the roots of these ideas and institutions within an overlapping constellation of relationships among social scientists and political leaders across the globe. These relationships emerged out of the intellectual dilemmas and political opportunities that nationalism across the colonial world, global social and economic crises, and new sources of immigration to the U.S. inspired in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. And while the dialogue between actors in the metropole and (post-) colony was crucial, so too were the intellectual and political connections between imperial Britain and the U.S. and between Egypt and India.