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GEOG 2014

Geographies of Food

  • Credits: 3
  • Level: Undergraduate, Year 2
  • Semester: 1
  • Status: Elective course for BSc/BA major (Geography) and BSc Geography.
  • Pre-requisites: GEOG 1901; or GEOG 1131,and GEOG 1132,or HOD permission (from 2013/14).
  • Course coordinator:Dr. Levi Gahman
  • Note: replaces GEOG 2006. Students who have already completed that course may not additionally take this one.

Course coverage

Political economy of the global food system, plantation economies, indigenous knowledge and small-scale production, agribusiness, green and 'gene' revolutions

Significance/Rationale

The need to eat is the most basic and important of all human drives. We need food more frequently and more urgently than we need even sex. Food is a basic human need, and right. The production, acquisition and consumption of food occupies everyone to some extent, and connects everyone with the environment, the water cycle, interdependence, global trade and aid, and the changing nature and location of industry. Human beings often organize societies around food production. By hiring or enslaving others to produce food, members of one social group exert power over other groups. Human beings from one culture are connected to people in far away places and vastly different cultures because they trade food with them: for example, Americans are connected to people all over the world through the export of Coca-Cola. The course provides students with a political economic and socio-cultural understanding of food production, marketing/distribution and consumption, power-laden processes revealed as connected in space and time. Agricultural geography is introduced in level 1 in GEOG1132. In this course the subject is developed and linked to other geography courses at UWI, St. Augustine, especially in its Caribbean focus.

Course description

An understanding of the political economic, socio-cultural, and environmental factors that influence the pathways of food is essential for geographers, especially for those interested in the Caribbean. The course aims to provide a framework for the analysis of socio-geographic factors that influence the production and distribution of agricultural commodities, marketing schemes, and patterns of consumption. A key issue will be the role of historical, political economic, and socio-cultural factors in regard to how food systems are constructed and shaped. The course will thus provide a critical overview of the global economy, as well as the contemporary notions of development are being generated within it, with a particular focus on food systems and foodscapes. The course will also cover how the political geography of food is shaped by the historical trajectory of plantation economics through several case studies found within the Caribbean. 

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