Historical Social Research

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Dominik Collet, Storage and Starvation: Public Granaries as Agents of Food Security in Early Modern Europe [Abstract]

The development of the ‘food security’ concept in the 1990s marked a significant change away from state-centred strategies that focused on food availability, towards policies aimed at food access and strengthening individual ‘entitlements’ (A. Sen) to food. This essay applies the food security approach to early modern food regimes, drawing on the example of the state-granary system in 18th century Prussia to investigate their agents, zones of conflict, and limits. The evident failure of technology-centred approaches raises questions about established periodisations, and modernisation narratives on the ‘great escape’ from hunger. The granary as a ‘technology of risk’ illustrates the social construction of ‘security’ through the labelling of security providers and security takers as well as the performance of exclusion and inclusion.