Raj Patel

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Raj Patel
Raj Patel.jpg
OccupationEconomist, writer
NationalityBritish, person of Indian origin
EducationUniversity of Oxford, London School of Economics, Cornell University
Notable worksThe Value of Nothing
Stuffed and Starved

Raj Patel (born 1972) is a British Indian academic, journalist, activist and writer[2] who has lived and worked in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United States for extended periods. He is best known for his 2008 book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.[3] His most recent book is The Value of Nothing[4] which was on The New York Times best-seller list during February 2010.[5][6] He has been referred to as "the rock star of social justice writing."[7]


Born to a mother from Kenya and a father from Fiji,[8][9][10] he grew up in Golders Green in north-west London where his family ran a corner shop.[11] Patel received a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), from Oxford, and a master's degree from the London School of Economics, and gained his PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University in 2002.[2][12] He has been a visiting scholar at Yale, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin. As part of his academic training, Patel worked at the World Bank, World Trade Organization and the United Nations.[2] He has since become an outspoken public critic of all of these organisations, and claims to have been tear-gassed on four continents protesting against his former employers.[2][8][13]

Patel was one of many organizers in the 1999 protests in downtown Seattle, WA, and has organised in support of food sovereignty.[14] More recently he has lived and worked extensively in Zimbabwe and in South Africa. He was refused a visa extension by the Mugabe regime for his political involvement with the pro-democracy movement. He is associated through his work on food with the Via Campesina movement, and through his work on urban poverty and resistance with Abahlali baseMjondolo[15] and the Landless Peoples Movement.[10] He has written a number of criticisms of various aspects of the policies and research methods of the World Bank[16][17] and was a co-editor, with Christopher Brooke, of the online leftist webzine The Voice of the Turtle.

In 2007 he was invited to give the keynote address at the University of Abahlali baseMjondolo graduation ceremony. He administers the organisation's website.[18] In 2008 he was asked to testify on the global food crisis before the House Financial Services Committee in the USA.[2] In 2009 he joined the advisory board of Corporate Accountability International's Value the Meal campaign.[19]

Patel became a US citizen on 7 January 2010.[20][21]

In January 2010 some adherents of Share International, following an announcement by Benjamin Creme, concluded that Patel could be the Maitreya.[22] Patel denied being the Maitreya.[22]

In 2012, he appeared in the National Film Board of Canada documentary Payback, based on Margaret Atwood's Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.[23] He appears in the documentary film A Place at the Table which opened in the US on 1 March 2013.[24]

Political views[edit]

Patel is a Libertarian Socialist and has described himself as "someone who has very strong anarchist sympathies."[25] In his book The Value of Nothing he praised the grassroots participatory democracy practised in the Zapatista Councils of Good Government in southern Mexico and has advocated similar decentralist models of economic democracy and confederal administration as templates to go by for social justice movements in the global north. He has also described himself as "not a communist ... just open minded",[26][27] and in an interview with The New Yorker's Lauren Collins as an atheist Hindu.[28]


"What we should be a little taken aback by is, not that corporations are miscreants, but that there are markets in food at all. Why are there markets in food? Why is there a global market in anything? I mean global markets in food are very weird." – speaking about the global food economy at Marquette University[29]

Raj Patel (r) confronts Glen Nayager of the South African Police at an Abahlali baseMjondolo protest in Durban

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b James, Scott (4 February 2010). "In Internet Era, an Unwilling Lord for New Age Followers". New York Times. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Raj about himself. (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
  3. ^ Patel, Raj (2008). Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Melville House Publishing. ISBN 978-1-933633-49-7.
  4. ^ Patel, Raj (2010). The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy. Picador. ISBN 978-0-312-42924-9.
  5. ^ New York Times best-seller (nonfiction) (Retrieved on 1 March 2010.)
  6. ^ New York Times best-seller (business) (Retrieved on 1 March 2010.)
  7. ^ World Class Intellectual Engagement, Imraan Buccus, The Mercury, 23 March 2011
  8. ^ a b Interview with Raj Patel The New York Times blog (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
  9. ^ A Big Think Interview With Raj Patel From Junior Capitalist to Social Activist (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
  10. ^ a b About himself at 21 minuti (Retrieved on 9 February 2010.)
  11. ^ Johnson, Bobbie (19 March 2010). "I'm not the messiah, says food activist – but his many worshippers do not believe him". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  12. ^ Raj about his education (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
  13. ^ Citizine Archived 29 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
  14. ^ Speech at 21 minuti (Retrieved on 9 February 2010.)
  15. ^ The Politics of Starving: An Interview with Raj Patel, Upping the Anti, 2010
  16. ^ The world bank and agriculture A critical review at World bank's world development report 2008 (Retrieved on 10 February 2010.)
  17. ^ Faulty Shades of Green: The World Bank Dissembles the Environment (Retrieved on 10 February 2010.)
  18. ^ Patel, Raj (10 June 2010). "Off-Side at the World Cup". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  19. ^ Value the Meal Advisory Board Archived 6 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
  20. ^ Raj Patel blog (Retrieved on 10 February 2010.)
  21. ^ Raj Patel Colbert Report (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
  22. ^ a b Scott James (4 February 2010). "In Internet Era, an Unwilling Lord for New Age Followers". New York Times. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  23. ^ Fulton, Ben (27 January 2012). "Sundance: A documentary about debt offers a big 'Payback'". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  24. ^ IMDB entry
  25. ^ Johnson, Bobbie (19 March 2010). "I'm not the messiah, says food activist – but his many worshippers do not believe him". The Guardian. London.
  26. ^ "A Big Think Interview With Raj Patel". Big Think. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  27. ^ https://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/201001/20100125_patel.html. Retrieved 22 February 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  28. ^ Collins, Lauren (29 November 2010). "Are you the Messiah?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 29 July 2012. Patel grew up a "God-fearing Hindu," but now calls himself an "atheist Hindu."
  29. ^ About global food economy Marquette University ''(Retrieved on February 11, 2010.)


  • Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, by Raj Patel (2008)
  • Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice, Eric Holt Giménez, Raj Patel (2009)
  • Food Rebellions!: Forging Food Sovereignty to Solve the Global Food Crisis, Raj Patel (2009)
  • The Value of Nothing, by Raj Patel (2010)

Forwards and Introductions[edit]

Forward to No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way, by the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers (2011)

External links[edit]