“Why Can't People Feed Themselves?”: Archaeology as Alternative Archive of Food Security in Banda, Ghana

Amanda L. Logan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

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].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-524
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Volume118
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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