A two-day interdisciplinary conference — “Malthus: Food, Land, People” — is to take place at Cambridge University this summer to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Thomas Robert Malthus’s birth. It is expected to be the most substantial reassessment of Malthus, his ideas, and his global significance for several generations.
Thomas Robert Malthus (1766 – 1834) was the author of An Essay on the Principle of Population, the most famous book on population ever written. Since its publication in 1798, his book has never been out of print — nor out of public discussion, as its substance touches many currently-pressing issues: good and bad government; equality and inequality; food and agriculture; demographics and human behaviour; sex and gender; land and property; development trajectories, and economic predictions, histories and futures.
Historians, economists, literary scholars, political theorists, geographers, demographers, and philosophers will share their views on Malthus and Malthusianism in and for his own centuries, and for ours — a century defined by accelerating public debate on environment, population, and food security.
The conference aims to escape (although perhaps, if beneficial, to analyse) the bifurcated pro- and anti-Malthusian stances that have accumulated since 1798. Speakers will ask different questions of Malthus and his famous text, such as: What is the long history of development here? Was gender a key element for Malthus, and if so, what do the major changes in cultures of gender and sex mean for his thesis? How did (and does) the extra-European world figure? Does Malthus help us think through the connection between economy and ecology? What has the foregrounding of “climate” in recent years done to the principle of population?
“Malthus: Food, Land, People” is open to the public, and takes place from 20 — 21 June 2016 at CRASSHH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) and Jesus College, Cambridge, with a dinner at Jesus College on 19 June to launch the conference and welcome speakers and delegates. The standard attendance fee is £50 and £25 for students.