Greening the desert: a solution to food security in a warming planet?

In a warming, water-scarce planet, we are hearing again that the future lies in “greening the desert.” In the face of growing fears of ecological limits to production under the specter of overpopulation, climate change, and peak oil — strands of the alternative food movement along with policy makers and industry players are promoting agri-technologies and on-farm practices that make it possible to turn semi-arid and arid areas into new centres of food production.

Paradoxically, these greening the desert narratives come at a time of growing public attention to the water crises that have been intensifying in arid and semi-arid regions from industrial agriculture production.

My latest article, published in a special issue on the politics of food (Duke University Press), addresses this paradox by examining the role of greening the desert in the spread and development of industrial agriculture (and horticulture, in particular) in new Southern regions since the 1970s.

I use a case study of agroexport farms in Egypt, based on field research, that raises fundamental questions about the promise of the next technical fix to secure food futures in a new climate regime.

New Issue of Journal of World-Systems Research (open access, online)

Announcing New Issue of Journal of World-Systems Research

We are happy to announce the publication of the Winter/Spring 2017 issue of the Journal of World-Systems Research (

As we watch unfolding news about the policies of the Trump administration and its supporters, it is helpful to situate these events in the larger framework that world-systems analysis provides. Contributions in this issue contribute to new understandings of these challenges and of possible responses that can advance a more humane and sustainable world-system.

Articles by Karatasli and Kumral and by Luo examine China’s role in contesting the dominant global order. Sprague shows how the transnational capitalist class has operated to exert its influence over states and workers in the global cruise ship industry. Burroway and Ewing offer rigorous critiques of dominant narratives in public health and the environment, respectively, offering insights into how to advance modes of thinking that better account for human well-being and ecosystem preservation. Finally, Ziltener, Künzler, and Walter present a new dataset that allows researchers to take into account the enduring structural impacts of colonialism.

Our book review section features a special symposium on McCallum’s Global Unions, Local Power: The New Spirit of Transnational Labor Organizing.

The Journal of World-Systems Research is available free online at It is the official journal of the American Sociological Association’s section on Political Economy of the World-System and one of the most established scholarly, peer-reviewed, open access journals. Please help us spread the word about the issue and forward the details below to friends and colleagues. You can also find JWSR and PEWS on Facebook (

 Journal of World-Systems Research

Volume 23 Number 1

Winter/Spring 2017

 Table of Contents

Sahan Savas Karatasli and Sefika Kumral | Territorial Contradictions of the Rise of China: Geopolitics, Nationalism and Hegemony in Comparative-Historical Perspective

Zhifan Luo | Intrastate Dynamics in the Context of Hegemonic Decline: A Case Study of China’s Arms Transfer Regime

Jeb Sprague | The Caribbean Cruise Ship Industry and the Emergence of a Transnational Capitalist Class

Rebekah Burroway | Political Economy, Capability Development, and Fundamental Cause: Integrating Perspectives on Child Health in Developing Countries

Jeffrey A Ewing | Hollow Ecology: Ecological Modernization Theory and the Death of Nature


Patrick Ziltener, Daniel Künzler, and André Walter | Measuring The Impacts Of Colonialism:  A New Data Set For The Countries Of Africa And Asia


Symposium: Global Unions, Local Power: The New Spirit of Transnational Labor Organizing by Jamie McCallum (2013, Cornell University Press).

Contributions from Stephanie Luce, Jamie McCallum, Fabiola Mieres, Joel Stillerman, and Sarah Swider