Introducing….Malthus: Food, Land, People conference, 20-21 June 2016


Interdisciplinary panels will critically discuss some of the better-known and controversial aspects of Malthus work


What is the Malthus: Food, Land, People conference all about?

This conference aims at a comprehensive re-assessment of the life, work and legacy of Thomas Robert Malthus. It brings new and emerging scholars into conversation with some of the most renowned scholars of Malthus’ life and career. Interdisciplinary panels will critically discuss some of the better-known and controversial aspects of Malthus work (his thoughts on the ‘population question’ and the Poor Law for example); overlooked and under-theorised problems (Malthus’ thinking on the ‘New World’ for instance); as well as engage with some of the implications of Malthus’ ideas in the present.

What are the key questions being addressed by the conference?

  • formation of Malthus’ ideas (allies, antagonists, and interlocutors)
  • Malthus’ political economy
  • ecological thought before and after Malthus
  • gender and reproduction
  • the portrayal of Malthus in literature
  • the reception of Malthusian ideas in different historical and geographical contexts

Who will it be of interest to?

Scholars and academics, journalists, undergraduates and graduate students, interested members of the public

How did this conference come about?

In part the conference marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) a one-time student and fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. It seems fitting that the university should do something to mark the occasion of the birth of one its most famous students!

However, the primary reasons for convening this conference are intellectual: growing concerns about climate change, population growth, biodiversity loss, and planetary limits etc., coupled with the recognition that we have entered a new geological era of the ‘Anthropocene’  - all this suggests that Malthus’ ideas are worth critically revisiting today.

Who are the speakers and what can delegates expect from the conference?

Delegates can expect a full, wide-ranging, interdisciplinary discussion. Our panellists come from a wide variety of disciplines – History, Land Economy, Demography, International Relations, English Literature, Anthropology, Sociology and Geography.

The panels are deliberately small, allowing speakers time to develop their arguments and leaving room for critical comments and questions at the end.

The speaker list includes:

Joyce Chaplin (Harvard), Alison Bashford (Cambridge), Rebecca Flemming (Cambridge), Niall O’Flaherty (KCL), Richard Tuck (Harvard), Christopher Brooke (Cambridge), Gareth Stedman Jones (Cambridge), Duncan Kelly (Cambridge), Leigh Shaw-Taylor (Cambridge), Richard Smith (Cambridge), Mohan Rao (JNU), E.A. Wrigley (Cambridge), Nick Cullather (Indiana), David Nally (Cambridge), Shailaja Fennell (Cambridge), Nefissa Naguib (Oslo), Alaka Basu (Cornell), Sarah Franklin (Cambridge), Xiaoying Zheng (Peking), Fredrik Jonsson (Chicago), Fabien Locher (Paris), Paul Warde (Cambridge), Emma Rothschild (Harvard).

The Malthus: Food, Land, People conference takes place at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, on 20-21 June 2016.

Registration: £50 (students £25). Booking closes: 11 June 2016.

For further information, see the conference website or email the CRASSH conferences team.

Professor E. A. Wrigley will also be presenting a public lecture on 20 June as part of this conference. His talk is free and open to all. Further details can be found here.