During the development decades of the 1960s and 1970s, governments around the world borrowed heavily to finance economic and social development, only to succumb to the global debt crisis and general recession of the 1980s. The last 15–20 years have witnessed the increasing adoption of neo–liberal austerity measures, led by the stabilization and structural adjustment programs of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which have averted a crisis for international banks by shifting the burden to the urban poor in the less developed or ′emergent,′ developing nations.
Free Markets and Food Riots explores this general proposition in a cross–national study of the austerity protests, or the ′IMF Riots′ that have affected so many debtor nations since the mid–1970s. The book argues that modern austerity protests, like the classical "bread riots" in eighteenth–century Europe are political acts aimed at injustice, but acts that are an integral part of the process of international economic and political restructuring. Modern food riots are most important for what they reveal about global economic transformation and its social, and political, consequences.
Successive chapters provide a general framework (drawing on comparative and historical material) and then trace the cycle of uneven development, debt, neo–liberal reform, and protest in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Additional chapters focus on the role of women in structural adjustment and protest politics and the features of seemingly anomalous cases which qualify the general argument.
Part I: Introduction:.
1. Global Adjustment.
2. Food Riots Past and Present.
Part II: Case Studies:.
3. Fighting for Survival: Women′s Responses to Austerity Programs.
4. Latin America: Popular Protest and the State.
5. Economic Adjustment and Democratization in Africa.
6. The Middle East and North Africa.
7. The Asian Debt Crisis: Structural Adjustment and Popular Protest in India.
8. Explaining Sri Lanka′s Exceptionalism: Popular Responses to Welfarism and the ′Open Economy′.
9. The Politics of Economic Reform in Central and Eastern Europe.
Part III: Conclusion:.
10. Debt Crisis and Democratic Transition.
David Seddon is Professor of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and has written extensively on "the politics of structural adjustment".