Samantha Gayathri Iyer F'18, F'13

Samantha Gayathri Iyer
Assistant Professor
History
Fordham University
last updated: 10/20/2019

ACLS Fellowship Program 2018
Assistant Professor
History
Fordham University
Agricultural Superpower: The Politics of Food in India, Egypt, and the United States, 1870s-1970s

Through the prism of food, this project traces how the United States emerged as a global power out of a British imperial world. Its point of departure is an oft-ignored characteristic of the United States after World War II: in contrast to imperial Britain, an industrial power reliant on a colonial hinterland for raw materials, the United States was an agricultural superpower in a world of nation states. Under its 1954 food aid program, the United States became the dominant exporter of food staples to predominantly agricultural countries. The study focuses on Egypt and India, British territories that became the largest consumers of US food aid after independence. This project reveals how food aid inspired a fundamental transformation and reimagining of the relationship between country and city, within and across national boundaries, and how an interimperial shift bore the imprint of the ideas and actions of farmers, workers, and consumers.

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2013
Doctoral Candidate
History
University of California, Berkeley
The Paradox of Plenty and Poverty: A Political Economy of Food in Egypt, India, and the US, 1870s-1970s

In the 1950s to 1970s, the international organization of food supply became contingent on the US export of food aid in what sociologist Harriet Friedmann has called the “international food order.” This dissertation recounts the story of US food aid to Egypt and India, its largest consumers, drawing on extensive archival research in those three countries and the U.K. Scholars have generally characterized development aid as the product of ideas conceived in the US and Europe and implemented in the developing world. This story, instead, shows how the post-war food order nurtured and depended on a contemporaneous, international transformation of governance—both ideas and institutions—beginning in the late nineteenth century. A range of global actors, from peasants and wage-workers to social scientists and policymakers, played a vital role in this process of change.