Critiquing Experts’ Struggles to Amplify the Concept of ‘Nutrition’ among Under-five Children in Southern Coastal Tanzania

Lucius Mugisha


This article analyses experts’ views of the underlying causes of (under)nutrition issues among children in southern coastal Tanzania by paying attention to the sectors of agriculture, wildlife and fisheries. This critique is in the light of Harvey’s (2003) concept of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ and Foucault’s (1976) concept of ‘biopolitics’. While accumulation by dispossession describes transformations that ensure the coexistence of commodity and non-commodity relations in southern coastal Tanzania, biopolitics highlights experts’ techniques with which both, the said relations and experts’ views of nutrition, are legitimized and reproduced. Using critical ethnography, we conducted in-depth interviews (IDIs) with experts at various levels and reviewed documents to highlight the techniques with which experts represent and legitimize their understanding of nutrition. Findings show that, despite struggles to amplify it, the experts’ view of nutrition remains exclusionist, representing coastal communities as isolated and restrictive to rational nutrition thoughts, actions and practices. In particular, the experts’ understanding of nutrition misses critical aspects, namely features of coastal communities such as production and consumption patterns as well as their views of nutrition for children. Accordingly, this paper recommends that experts should refashion their conceptual tools to enable them to capture the social organization, consequent social conditions of the coastal communities, and their experiences. All these play a critical role in shaping their understanding of ‘nutrition’ among children in southern coastal Tanzania.


Key words: Experts, nutrition, undernutrition, accumulation by dispossession, biopolitics, social organization, social conditions, coastal people, southern coastal Tanzania


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