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Bodies and Needs: Lessons from Palestine

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2014

Sherene Seikaly*
Affiliation:
Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.; e-mail: srseikaly@gmail.com

Extract

We have come to understand developmental indices such as growth, standard of living, and the calorie as “universal.” Such indices promise an objective means of erasing developmental differences. They promise sameness. However, what happens when we shift our focus away from inclusion and exclusion in the process of development, and instead look at when and how these categories themselves were constituted?

Type
Roundtable
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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References

1 Cullather, Nick, “The Foreign Policy of the Calorie,” American Historical Review 112 (2007): 338, 345CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

2 The Western protein daily allowance of 90–100 grams was adjusted to 69 grams in Palestine due to climate. (In India, the Technical Commission estimated the basic requirement for adult women and men at 35–65 grams.) The League of Nations took a strong line on animal protein requirements for pregnant and nursing women at 40 grams per day. Vickers claimed this was an “impossibility” in Palestine and throughout the Middle and Far East due to availability and the dietary habits of most people, who were “vegetarian in mind.” The average Western fat requirement was 85–125 grams per day, an amount that was adjusted to 50 grams per day in “hot climates.” Rhodes House, Blue Book Register: Palestine 905/12/6: A Nutritional Economic Survey of Wartime Palestine, 1942–1943 (Jerusalem: Palestine Government Printer, 1943), 43.

3 Ibid., 11.

4 Israel State Archive (hereafter ISA): RG2/CSO/4331/8: Controller of Supplies Memorandum on Food Rationing, 16 November 1941.

5 National Archive, Colonial Office 859/112/6: Economic Advisory Council: Committee on Nutrition in the Colonial Empire: Summary of Information Regarding Nutrition in the Colonial Empire [First Draft], 1938.

6 Lloyd, E.M.H., Food and Inflation in the Middle East, 1940–1945 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1956), 182Google Scholar.

7 The wuqiya in Egypt is 37 grams, in Aleppo 320 grams, in Beirut 213.39 grams, and in Jerusalem 240 grams. The raṭl is 449.28 grams in Egypt, 462 grams in Saudi Arabia, 504 grams in Tunisia, 508 grams in Morocco, 1.785 kilograms in Damascus, and 2.566 kilograms in Beirut and Aleppo. The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 1979). The southern Palestinian wuqiya was closer to the Egyptian measurement, while the northern Palestinian wuqiya followed the Beirut measurement.

8 ISA: RG2/CSO/4331/8: “Controller of Supplies, Memorandum on Food Rationing,” 16 November 1941.

9 An earlier study, which was very limited in scope, was conducted by the leading Zionist malariologist. See the volume on this: Kligler, Israel, Geiger, A., Bromberg, S., and Gurevitch, D., “An Inquiry into the Diets of Various Sections of the Urban and Rural Population of Palestine,” Bulletin of the Palestine Economic Society 5, no. 3 (1931)Google Scholar.

10 Rhodes House, Blue Book Register: Palestine 905/12/6: A Nutritional Economic Survey of Wartime Palestine, 1942–1943 (Jerusalem: Palestine Government Printer, 1943)

11 Vernon, James, Hunger: A Modern History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), 197CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Tooze, Adam, Statistics and the German State, 1900–1945: The Making of Modern Economic Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 28Google Scholar.

13 On Herbert Hoover, see Cullather, “The Foreign Policy.” Randall Packard and Frederick Cooper explore how Robert McNamara's concern with rural poverty as he took over the World Bank in the 1970s may have been shaped by his experiences in Vietnam and his fear of rural-based revolution. McNamara's approach resonated with earlier French and British policies that used development to face “the threat of colonial rebellion and the spread of communism.” Cooper and Packard, “Introduction,” in International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge, ed. Cooper and Packard (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1997), 20Google Scholar.

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