Nick Wilson, "Political Ecology and the Irish Potato Famine"

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Ireland switched from being a net grain exporter to being a net grain importer.61 These facts contrast sharply with the case of India, where, according to Davis, record amounts of grain were exported during the worst of the famine years.62

The purpose of this essay has not been to reject Davis'-or for that matter, Sen's-"political ecology" model of famine as fundamentally flawed. Rather, by comparing the model to a similar famine just outside of its framework, this essay has attempted to demonstrate that famine can occur with or without market penetration, in the midst of plenty or during genuine food shortages. Also, the motivations behind the British imperial administration were shown to have been more complex and multifaceted than a simple laissez-faire interpretation allows.


61. O'Grada, 123.
62. Davis, 26.
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