Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

The Benefits of Famine
A Political Economy of Famine and Relief in Southwestern Sudan, 1983–89

By David Keen

“This thoroughly researched and well-written book is essential reading not only for all who deal with famine relief and disaster management but also for students of public health, the social sciences, and rural development.”

The Lancet

“Keen has done a marvellous job of exposing powerful local, national, and international actors who have variously manipulated the famine tragedy in the Sudan to serve their narrow self-interests.… The unusual strength of this book is the way in which the author has skilfully demonstrated how different regimes in Khartoum exploited Western security perceptions in the region for their own political and strategic ends. Amidst Cold War politics, aid donors feared that linking relief aid with progress on peace negotiations and human rights, might have produced a backlash against their vital security interests in the region. This belief encouraged Khartoum to define unilaterally the relief problem and how to solve it and, in due course, to pass judgment on its own effort.”


“The 1988 famine was a dress rehearsal for Darfur. Many of the same groups and persons who benefited from the famine Keen describes are benefiting from the crisis in Darfur today; many of the same constraints that prevented an effective international response then still impede action now...For these reasons The Benefits of Famine is as relevant to understanding the ongoing war in Darfur as it is to understanding the recently ended civil war.”

Douglas H. Johnson, from the Foreword

The conflict in Darfur had a precursor in Sudan’s famines of the 1980s and 1990s. David Keen’s The Benefits of Famine presents a new and chilling interpretation of the causes of war-induced famine. Now in paperback for the first time with a new and updated introduction by the author, The Benefits of Famine gives depth to an understanding of the evolution of the Darfur crisis.

David Keen is Reader in Complex Emergencies at the Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science.   More info →

Order a print copy

Paperback · $23.16 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $28.95 · Save 20% ($23.16)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Cover of The Benefits of Famine

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Downloads & Links

Related Subjects

Click or tap on a subject heading to sign up to be notified when new related books come out.


Retail price: $28.95, S.
Release date: October 2008
320 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom

Related Titles

Cover of 'Eroding the Commons'

Eroding the Commons
The Politics of Ecology in Baringo, Kenya, 1890s–1963
By David M. Anderson

Colonial Baringo was largely unnoticed until drought and localized famine in the mid-1920s led to claims that its crisis was brought on by overcrowding and livestock mismanagement. In response to the alarm over erosion, the state embarked on a program for rehabilitation, conservation, and development.Eroding

African History · History | Historical Geography · Colonialism and Decolonization · Kenya · African Studies

Cover of 'The Poor Are Not Us'

The Poor Are Not Us
Poverty and Pastoralism in Eastern Africa
Edited by David M. Anderson and Vigdis Broch-Due

Eastern African pastoralists often present themselves as being egalitarian, equating cattle ownership with wealth. By this definition “the poor are not us”, poverty is confined to non-pastoralist, socially excluded persons and groups.Exploring this notion means discovering something about self-perceptions and community consciousness, how pastoralist identity has been made in opposition to other modes of production, how pastoralists want others to see them and how they see themselves.This

Anthropology · African History · Human Geography · Eastern Africa · African Studies

Cover of 'Stirring the Pot'

Stirring the Pot
A History of African Cuisine
By James C. McCann

Stirring the Pot offers a chronology of African cuisine beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing from Africa’s original edible endowments to its globalization, tracing cooks’ use of new crops, spices, and New World imports. It highlighting the relationship between food and the culture, history, and national identity of Africans.

African History · African Studies · Food Studies · Cookbooks

Cover of 'Rethinking Pastoralism in Africa'

Rethinking Pastoralism in Africa
Gender, Culture, and the Myth of the Patriarchal Pastoralist
Edited by Dorothy L. Hodgson

The dominant trend in pastoralist studies has long assumed that pastoralism and pastoral gender relations are inherently patriarchal. The contributors to this collection, in contrast, use diverse analytic approaches to demonstrate that pastoralist gender relations are dynamic, relational, historical, and produced through complex local-translocal interactions.

Anthropology · African History · History · African Studies

Sign up to be notified when new African Studies titles come out.

We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.