Food, water, and scarcity: Toward a broader anthropology of resource insecurity

Amber Wutich, Alexandra Slade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Food and water shortages are two of the greatest challenges facing humans in the coming century. While our theoretical understanding of how humans become vulnerable to and cope with hunger is relatively well developed, anthropological research on parallel problems in the water domain is limited. By carefully considering well-established propositions derived from the food literature against what is known about water, our goal in this essay is to advance identifying, theorizing, and testing a broader anthropology of resource insecurity. Our analysis focuses on (1) the causes of resource insecurity at the community level, (2) "coping" responses to resource insecurity at the household level, and (3) the effect of insecurity on emotional well-being and mental health at the individual level. Based on our findings, we argue that human experiences of food and water insecurity are sufficiently similar to facilitate a broader theory of resource insecurity, including in how households and individuals cope. There are also important differences between food and water insecurity, including the role of structural factors (such as markets) in creating community-level vulnerabilities. These suggest food and water insecurity may also produce household struggles and individual suffering along independent pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-468
Number of pages25
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

anthropology
food
water
resources
hunger
community
shortage
Anthropology
Food
Resources
Scarcity
Water
coping
vulnerability
well-being
mental health
cause
market
experience
Household

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Food, water, and scarcity : Toward a broader anthropology of resource insecurity. / Wutich, Amber; Slade, Alexandra.

In: Current Anthropology, Vol. 55, No. 4, 2014, p. 444-468.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{4d30d87d832b468f84e8fefdee421db3,
title = "Food, water, and scarcity: Toward a broader anthropology of resource insecurity",
abstract = "Food and water shortages are two of the greatest challenges facing humans in the coming century. While our theoretical understanding of how humans become vulnerable to and cope with hunger is relatively well developed, anthropological research on parallel problems in the water domain is limited. By carefully considering well-established propositions derived from the food literature against what is known about water, our goal in this essay is to advance identifying, theorizing, and testing a broader anthropology of resource insecurity. Our analysis focuses on (1) the causes of resource insecurity at the community level, (2) {"}coping{"} responses to resource insecurity at the household level, and (3) the effect of insecurity on emotional well-being and mental health at the individual level. Based on our findings, we argue that human experiences of food and water insecurity are sufficiently similar to facilitate a broader theory of resource insecurity, including in how households and individuals cope. There are also important differences between food and water insecurity, including the role of structural factors (such as markets) in creating community-level vulnerabilities. These suggest food and water insecurity may also produce household struggles and individual suffering along independent pathways.",
author = "Amber Wutich and Alexandra Slade",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.1086/677311",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "55",
pages = "444--468",
journal = "Current Anthropology",
issn = "0011-3204",
publisher = "University of Chicago",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Food, water, and scarcity

T2 - Toward a broader anthropology of resource insecurity

AU - Wutich, Amber

AU - Slade, Alexandra

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Food and water shortages are two of the greatest challenges facing humans in the coming century. While our theoretical understanding of how humans become vulnerable to and cope with hunger is relatively well developed, anthropological research on parallel problems in the water domain is limited. By carefully considering well-established propositions derived from the food literature against what is known about water, our goal in this essay is to advance identifying, theorizing, and testing a broader anthropology of resource insecurity. Our analysis focuses on (1) the causes of resource insecurity at the community level, (2) "coping" responses to resource insecurity at the household level, and (3) the effect of insecurity on emotional well-being and mental health at the individual level. Based on our findings, we argue that human experiences of food and water insecurity are sufficiently similar to facilitate a broader theory of resource insecurity, including in how households and individuals cope. There are also important differences between food and water insecurity, including the role of structural factors (such as markets) in creating community-level vulnerabilities. These suggest food and water insecurity may also produce household struggles and individual suffering along independent pathways.

AB - Food and water shortages are two of the greatest challenges facing humans in the coming century. While our theoretical understanding of how humans become vulnerable to and cope with hunger is relatively well developed, anthropological research on parallel problems in the water domain is limited. By carefully considering well-established propositions derived from the food literature against what is known about water, our goal in this essay is to advance identifying, theorizing, and testing a broader anthropology of resource insecurity. Our analysis focuses on (1) the causes of resource insecurity at the community level, (2) "coping" responses to resource insecurity at the household level, and (3) the effect of insecurity on emotional well-being and mental health at the individual level. Based on our findings, we argue that human experiences of food and water insecurity are sufficiently similar to facilitate a broader theory of resource insecurity, including in how households and individuals cope. There are also important differences between food and water insecurity, including the role of structural factors (such as markets) in creating community-level vulnerabilities. These suggest food and water insecurity may also produce household struggles and individual suffering along independent pathways.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84904412042&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84904412042&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1086/677311

DO - 10.1086/677311

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84904412042

VL - 55

SP - 444

EP - 468

JO - Current Anthropology

JF - Current Anthropology

SN - 0011-3204

IS - 4

ER -