Today, food insecurity is associated with both severe climatic shifts and pervasive poverty. What is less well understood is how the problem of hunger came to take its present-day form, especially in the African continent, where the highest prevalence of undernourishment is found. In this article, I propose that archaeology can be used as an alternative archive of food security. Material remains provide a from-the-hearth-up view of changing foodways and political economy and can be used to trace the shape of processes that led to modern-day patterns of food insecurity. Combining archaeobotanical, ethnoarchaeological, and environmental data, I provide a case study that shows how food insecurity was avoided during a centuries-long drought in Banda, Ghana, and emerged only much later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, as market economies and colonial rule took hold. I suggest that archaeology is essential for making such processes of “slow violence” visible, particularly in areas that lack rich historical archives. [Africa, food security, Ghana, archaeobotany, slow violence].
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)