Accepted Paper:

Hungry Capital: Financial Actors & the Governance of Global Food Security  


Lise Cornilleau (LISIS / Sciences Po)

Paper short abstract:

The article describes the role of financial actors and technologies in the renewed governance of global food security since the 2008 world food crisis. As in the case of biotechnologies, policy design and metrics are coproduced between private actors and international organizations.

Paper long abstract:

In spite of their controversial role in the 2008 world food crisis, financial actors are encouraged to participate in the renewed global governance of food security, both through multi-stakeholders platforms such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) of the United Nations, and through international initiatives promoting public-private partnerships in African agricultural policies (e.g. the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition) and agricultural research (e.g. the Alliance for A Green Revolution in Africa). The article will describe: (i) the main categories of financial actors involved (banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, etc.), (ii) the financial technologies promoted as "solutions" to world hunger, (iii) the ways these technologies create assets (land, soft commodities, etc.) and the role played by metrics (i.e. statistics and models) in this process. The analysis is based on content analysis and ethnographic material: participant observation of the negotiations of the Principle on Responsible Agricultural Investment at the CFS; interviews with financial actors involved in the negotiation process, and with statisticians and modelers of food security in international organizations (FAO, IFPRI). Whereas the Green Revolution has been described as an actor-network centered on biotechnologies [Brooks, 2005; Cullather, 2010], its unique combination of financial and biological technologies enables to govern foreign populations at a distance and in the future.

Panel T005
Turning Things into Assets