Date of Thesis
Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Philippe C. Dubois
food systems, France, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), colonialism, mapping
This paper is an examination of food system efficacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and France. It is divided into three chapters, the first of which serves the following purposes: (i) define a food system, (ii) analyze the efficacy of modern day food systems in France and DRC (iii) identify history as a key factor in the shaping of infrastructure of food systems, and (iv) describe how the francophone world is a product of colonization and that food systems in both the colonizers and colonized are products of colonial interaction, however with different outcomes. The first chapter will analyze factors that affect food systems such as the political, social, and environmental changes throughout the 20th century histories of each country. The level of political instability, military and civilian violence, and historical use of arable land, as well as the importation or exportation of crops grown in each country have shaped differences in infrastructure that affect access to food. This chapter explains how these factors act as stronger limiters for DRC than they do for France, and how they produce different realities of food accessibility. While history acts as an important shaper of food systems and the underlying causes of food insecurity, it is not the only contributor to them. History has shaped the realities of food systems, but does not reveal food system potential. The objective of the second chapter is to compare the potential of food production in France and DRC to the reality that was discussed in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 will place an emphasis on climate, as climate dictates crop potential in certain regions or countries. In order to understand the climates of France and DRC and what crops these climates can produce, this chapter will utilize the Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification System, or a Köppen Map. This map reveals that regions of France and DRC share similar climates. We see in this analysis that the reality of crops grown in each country differs from the potential, and their potentials are actually similar. This chapter will then serve to explain how Köppen maps unintentionally depict France and DRC as equal and comparable countries, whereas the histories of these countries create a narrative that places France in a olonizer category, and DRC in a colonized category, essentially placing the former in a position of power over the latter. This narrative is one created not just by historian views, but also modern day maps that aim to depict food security as a product of these histories. Finally, this chapter will also acknowledge the limitations and critiques of Köppen maps. World hunger maps that depict food insecurity take into account histories of countries and how these have shaped their food accessibility, but do not visually depict these historical underlying causes of food insecurity. Chapter 3 will explain how these maps can shape issues like food insecurity in terms of crises, but alternatively can aim to shape this issue as a result of underlying causes or other failed systems such as poor infrastructure. This chapter will provide two example maps published by the World Food Programme, the food aid branch of the United Nations, and explain how both maps intentionally and unintentionally frame the way in which we view countries as defined by specific narratives, and in the case of DRC, unfairly in terms of a crisis narrative. These maps will also highlight how, if used exclusively by policy makers, the crisis narratives they produce can influence decisions made by organizations such as the United Nations to only address symptoms of failed food systems, such as hunger, instead of its root causes. Finally, in this chapter I will suggest additions to existing maps in order to call attention to underlying causes of food insecurity that show colonial relationships still exist today, and how to better frame issues that require policy-maker attention to reduce hunger.
Alexander, Colleen Annette, "Francophone Food Systems: Colonialism, Maps, and Misrepresentation of Alimentation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and France" (2017). Honors Theses. 383.