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Uncovering the Blind Spot: How Ethnic Conflict Leads to Famine

Powers, Kaitlin (2020) Uncovering the Blind Spot: How Ethnic Conflict Leads to Famine. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Across the world, societies, collectively, make enough food to feed every person, yet one in nine are malnourished. Malnutrition creates developmental, economic, social, and medical burdens on countries, which can all be averted with adequate food supplies for every household. In the worst situations possible, famines cause thousands of deaths when food supplies are severely limited. In order to prevent famines, a clearer understanding of their causes is necessary. Previous research has concluded that more than half of all great famines can be attributed to specific actions taken by ruling authorities. Many of these actions, especially in Africa, are ethnically motivated. However, ethnic conflict as a cause of famine has not been fully considered before, yet when instances of ethnic violence is compared to episodes of famines and mass intentional starvation, strong connections become apparent. This research illustrates the reasons to consider ethnic conflict in famines by beginning with a review of the previous literature and identifying the “blind side” of famine research. This paper adds to the research by suggesting that James Fearon’s theory that groups will mobilize along ethnic lines when there is competition over finite resources strongly applies to the availability of food during conflict. By researching all famine and mass starvation episodes in Africa from 1950 to 2019, it was found that 85% (or 17 out of 20) were worsened by ethnic conflict. This implies that ethnic conflict motivates groups to maximize their injury on their opponents by interrupting patterns of food availability.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Powers, Kaitlinkaitlin.powers@pitt.edukep60
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTerry, Marthamaterry@pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberSeybolt, Taylorseybolt@pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 18 May 2020
Date Type: Submission
Number of Pages: 44
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2020 17:35
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2020 17:35


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