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LUCIS What's New Lecture

Imported Empire: Food Production and Consumption in the Arab Gulf States

Thursday 4 April 2019
Free to visit, drinks after
What's New?! Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

The role of non-Northern regions and their forms of capital accumulation in the food industry have been overlooked. Often, critical work on contemporary agriculture has tended to examine the food system as a single global unit and the roles of emerging poles in the Global South have been neglected. Christian Henderson's research examines the case of agro-capital in the Gulf states. By doing so it illustrates the manner that the emergence of large agribusiness conglomerates that control large sections of the formal food sector in the Gulf and several other Arab states is significant to food regime theory in several ways.

Firstly it is illustrative of the manner that these poles represent sub-imperiums, and that capital has become internalised into the structures of state and class and is less directly dependent on US imperial power than before. Secondly, Gulf investments in food and land are often portrayed as a form of mercantilism that is driven by strategic food security concerns. This lecture challenges this definition by illustrating the manner that while they are state-led, they are profit-seeking and the definition of mercantilism is part of a tendency to exceptionalise the Gulf economies. Moreover, the notion that these investments are driven by food insecurity reifies the manner that the Gulf states have achieved growth by using their oil and gas resources to overcome their biophysical limitations.

About Christian Henderson

Dr. Christian Henderson is assistant professor in Middle East studies at Leiden Institute for Area Studies at Leiden University. His research focusses on agrarian change, political economy and political ecology of the Gulf states and wider Middle East. He is currently preparing a book manuscript entitled Imported Empire: Food, consumption and power in the Arab Gulf states.

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