Insecure food: diet, consumption, and identity among the Ethiopian Suri people
Jon Abbink (ASC Leiden/ VU University Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
This paper is about food, cultural identity and development among the agro-pastoral Suri people of Southwest Ethiopia, set in a context of state developmental ventures and radical land use changes, showing imposed, transformative challenges they face in livelihood and group survival.
Paper long abstract:
This paper is about food, cultural identity and development among the agro-pastoral Suri people of Southwest Ethiopia. Their food system is discussed in its actual form and in its process of recent change. The theoretical concern is with issues of identity formation and continuity through the materiality of food and food systems, and related to the varying assumptions underlying discourses of development. The Suri people, at the margins of the Ethiopian state, experienced a decline in food security, health and wealth in the last decade, coinciding with growing inter-group tension and new state developmental plans (massive sugar and other mono-crop plantations and in enterprises by foreigners and private capitalists). Local economies of agro-pastoralism and crop cultivation are not invested in. Some adverse effects on the production system, diet and 'food sovereignty' of the Suri are described. The often ambivalent changes in the Suri food pattern and food consumption show the challenges they face in (re)defining group identity, responding to internal tensions and to the state-capitalist modernizing schemes, supported by 'donor' countries.
Food cultures in Africa: food production, consumption, and prestige ranking in the age of development