Jostein Jakobsen & Ola T. Westengen: The imperial maize assemblage: maize dialectics in Malawi and India

Published in The Journal of Peasant Studies, 2021

Cover of The Journal of Peasant Studies


The ‘grain hypothesis', postulated by James Scott, suggests that cereals are ‘political crops’ intrinsic to state formation. Drawing the classical agrarian political economy of maize into dialogue with recent more-than-human political ecology, we explore the grain hypothesis with empirical material from present day Malawi and India. The evolution and ecology of the maize plant, we argue, has made it a strong agent of history, one that has enabled resilience, but also facilitated state and capital entanglement in the global agro-food system. This imperial maize assemblage is set on expansion, but it will continue to meet resistance in coevolved peasant-maize alliances.

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Jostein Jakobsen & Ola T. Westengen

Researcher Jostein Jakobsen
Researcher Jostein Jakobsen


Published Apr. 21, 2021 1:57 PM - Last modified Apr. 21, 2021 1:57 PM