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Typhoons and droughts: Food shortages and famine in the Philippines since the seventeenth century

Warren, J.F.ORCID: 0000-0003-0055-6730 (2018) Typhoons and droughts: Food shortages and famine in the Philippines since the seventeenth century. International Review of Environmental History, 4 (2). pp. 27-44.

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In this paper, I explore why so many people have starved in the Philippines when typhoons, floods and droughts have occurred since the seventeenth century and governments of the day have been unable to provide relief. Why, in the twenty-first century, are millions of Filipinos still living in the shadow of hunger? I draw attention to the causes and consequences of food shortages and famine and the relationship between climatic and weather factors, especially storms, floods and drought, and food supply (ownership and exchange), regional characteristics and social structure. In examining famines over time, I stress the structural links between food shortages, the nature of Filipino peasant societies and the weather factor. In addition, I explore the developing historical relationship between economic and political changes and societal group inequality, involving the loss of entitlements that become more explicit in times of famine. I also examine the lingering impacts of climate variability and extreme weather—typhoons, floods and drought—linked to past and present famines. Filipino farmers have not vanquished famine. Destitution and death from disasters and famine were all continual and familiar experiences under both Spanish and American rule, and remain so to the present day.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: ANU Press
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