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Starving on a Full Stomach

Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa
Diana Wylie

BUY Cloth · 319 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813920474 · $69.50 · Jul 2001
BUY Paper · 319 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813920689 · $36.50 · Jul 2001
BUY Ebook · 319 pp. · ISBN 9780813921716 · $36.50 · Jul 2001

An ideology of African ignorance that justified white supremacy grew up in South Africa during the first half of the twentieth century: if Africans were hungry, it was because they didn't know how to feed themselves properly; they were ignorant of "how to live." As a result, growing scientistic impatience with African culture reconciled many white South Africans to the harsh policies of apartheid.

In Starving on a Full Stomach: Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa, Diana Wylie tells the story of the foods Africans ate and the maladies they suffered, while she shows the ways in which doctors and politicians understood and acted upon those experiences in modern African life.

Wylie compares South Africa's food history with that of medieval Europe and modern America, and concludes by presenting some surprising similarities. Starving on a Full Stomach provides both a warning and a provocative framework that forces us to look at the continuing potential for misunderstanding and mismanagement of today's medical and food crises.


Dr. Wylie has written an illuminating and original book. Starving on a Full Stomach brings together intellectual and medical history in an impressive way, and has much that is new to say on the development of racism in South Africa, the impact on it of medical and social science research, and the politics of poverty and hunger.

Alan H. Jeeves, author of Migrant Labour in South Africa's Mining Economy and past president of the Canadian Association of African Studies

[Using] a vast geographical and temporal range of material, Diana Wylie has produced a readable and challenging study, casting new light on African nutrition, health, and agricultural practice. This is an informative work on the thought of missionaries, doctors, administrators, and social scientists, on the one hand, and of Africans in several contexts on the other.

Jeffrey Butlercoeditor and contributor · Democratic Liberalism in South Africa: Its History and Prospect

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