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Feeding Families: African Realities and British Ideas of Nutrition and Development in Early Colonial Africaby Cynthia Brantley
Synopses & Reviews
Colonial nutrition investigations and interventions in Africa began earlier than scholars have commonly assumed. Comparative details of African village nutritional conditions, as well as the specifics of British colonial scientific nutrition projects, are presented in this historical perspective on Africa's early colonial nutrition legacy. British colonial scientific nutrition projects in Nyasaland (Malawi), especially data from the Nyasaland Nutrition Survey and the first Nutrition Development Unit, form the foundation of this book. The ultimate conclusions British nutritionists derived from the surveys were misleading-both in terms of what was needed and what could be accomplished. Brantley examines and contextualizes this rich and obscure data.
The comparative complexities of African village life illustrate the degree to which Africans drew on rich historical and cultural combinations in their efforts to adapt to constant change, and the challenges of meeting their nutritional requirements. By highlighting gendered aspects of feeding families, the specific ways that colonialism transformed African lives, and the ways in which colonial officers believed in the superiority of British technological and scientific expertise, Brantley offers suggestive insights about many of the problems that linger in contemporary nutritional development projects.
Book News Annotation:
In 1936, Britain's secretary of state for the Colonies, in an effort to demonstrate responsibility towards colonized peoples, commissioned a series of reports on the nutritional condition of the colonized. Brantley (African history, U. of California at Davis) examines one of the earliest of these efforts in Nyasaland in the East African Territories for the lessons it provides about subsequent development projects during and after colonialism. She argues that an arrogance accompanied technological know how that presumed African ignorance and that patriarchal assumptions discounted women's labor in the household. This situation and similar ones that followed all but guaranteed the failure of development projects.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
By highlighting gendered aspects of feeding families, the specific ways that colonialism transformed African lives, and the ways in which colonial officers believed in the superiority of British technological and scientific expertise, Brantley offers suggestive insights about many of the problems that linger in contemporary nutritional development projects.
sh colonial scientific nutrition projects, are presented in this historical perspective on Africa's early colonial nutrition legacy.
About the Author
Cynthia Brantley is Professor of African History at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of The Giriama and Colonial Resistance in Kenya, 1800-1920 (1981) and numerous articles in journals such as Africa, The International Journal of African Historical Studies and Critique of Anthropology.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The British, The Context, and the Survey Team
The Africans: Three Villages, Three Ethnic Heritages, Three Ecologies and the Urbanizing Experiences
Three Villages and Urbanizing Life: Production and Consumption: The British and the Nyasaland Nutrition Survey, 1938-1940
The British Nyasaland Nutrition Development Unit in Nkotakota District, 1940-1943
Conclusion: Lessons, Misapprehensions, and Legacies
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History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology