The Hilary Hartley Prize

The School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies is pleased to announce that the Hilary Hartley Prize for 2015-16 has been awarded to Dr Susanne Jaspars. The Hilary Hartley Prize commemorates the life of Hilary Hartley, who died in 2008 while she was a PhD student in Politics. It is awarded each academic year for the best PhD thesis submitted by a SPAIS student.

Susanne’s thesis is entitled Food Aid, Power and Profit: An Historical Analysis of the Relation between Food Aid and Governance in Sudan, and was supervised by Professors Mark Duffield and Jutta Weldes.

Susanne’s examiners, David Keen, Professor of Complex Emergencies (Department of International Development at the LSE) and Martin Gainsborough, Professor of International Development (SPAIS, University of Bristol), judged her thesis and her viva voce examination to be of extremely high quality. They described her thesis as ‘a powerful and meticulous piece of work that we believe can play a significant part in drawing attention to a major humanitarian crisis and, beyond that, in propelling some urgent policy reforms’.

Congratulations to Susanne! 

Thesis Abstract:

Sudan represents one of the world’s most severe protracted crises and the country is one of the world’s longest-running and largest recipients of food aid.  The recent Darfur conflict led to the World Food Programme’s largest operation globally.  Yet by 2014 international agencies had only limited access to war-affected populations and had decreased food aid despite ongoing conflict, and the Sudan government had come to control who received food aid.  Malnutrition levels remained high.  This thesis argues that the ‘actually existing development’ resulting from long-term food aid has benefited the Sudan government and private sector but abandons populations to become resilient to permanent emergency.  

Using concepts of governmentality and genealogy, the thesis explores how food aid regimes of practices have co-evolved with local governance.  It analyses the links between practices, their underlying concepts and assumptions, the truths they produce, and the actual as well as intended effects.  The focus is on their effects on human behaviour, power relations and political economy, and the implications for local livelihoods.  Methods included examining policy documents, project reports, and interviews with government officials, aid workers, traders, transporters and beneficiaries in Khartoum and North Darfur.  

Shifts between regimes of practices were brought about by changes in global politics, food crises, the failures of food aid practices and reactions by the Sudan government, which led to a gradual depoliticisation and neoliberalisation of food security and nutrition.  In fifty years, food aid has rarely had the effect of saving lives and supporting livelihoods, but the consequences for Sudan’s political economy and its aid system have been enormous.  The thesis analyses these political and economic consequences and how long-term food aid has led to the Sudan government’s own food aid apparatus.  The research contributes to knowledge about the political economy of aid and highlights the need for radical reform of the aid industry.  

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