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School of Social and Political Science: Research


Law, Finance, and the Political Economy of Hunger

Law, Finance, and the Political Economy of Hunger
Speaker: Dr Anna Chadwick # University of Glasgow; Introduced by: Dr Isabel Fletcher # University of Edinburgh
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Date and Time
24th Jan 2019 16:00 - 24th Jan 2019 17:30
1st Floor Practice Suite, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LD

In recent years, considerable emphasis has been placed on developing legal solutions to poverty and deprivation. Most notably, human rights law seeks to empower the vulnerable and to improve their position in global society by mandating governments and courts to 'respect, protect, and fulfil' socio-economic rights. In the first part of this presentation, I will challenge the widespread positioning of law as a solution to the problem of hunger. I will draw on the work of Amartya Sen, Karl Marx, and Karl Polanyi, along with Institutionalist scholarship on markets, to demonstrate that legal regimes actively contribute to the production of hunger in the world. In the second half of the talk, I will discuss a more recent development that is aggravating food insecurity worldwide: the phenomenon of commodity derivatives speculation. I will argue that the current fixation on developing new regulatory rules to contain the 'excesses' of finance may not be the best strategy. Instead, I will argue, greater attention needs to be paid to how developments in contract law have enabled the development of a market in financial instruments linked to food prices in the first instance.  

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