|Born||1972 (age 50–51)|
|Nationality||British, person of Indian origin|
|Education||University of Oxford |
London School of Economics
|Notable works||The Value of Nothing|
Stuffed and Starved; (with Jason Moore)
A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet
Rajeev "Raj" Patel (born 1972) is a British Indian academic, journalist, activist and writer who has lived and worked in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the United States for extended periods. He has been referred to as "the rock star of social justice writing."
Early life and education
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.
As part of his academic training, Patel worked at the World Bank, World Trade Organization, and the United Nations. He has since become an outspoken public critic of all of these organisations, and reports having been tear-gassed on four continents protesting against his former employers.
Patel is an educator and academic. He has written articles and books. He is possibly best known for his 2008 book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. In 2009, he published The Value of Nothing which was on The New York Times best-seller list during February 2010. In 2017, he published, with co-author Jason W. Moore, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet (University of California Press).
He has been a visiting scholar at Yale University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin. Patel is listed as a Research Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas at Austin.
Patel was one of many organizers in the 1999 protests in Seattle, Washington, and has organised in support of food sovereignty. More recently he has resided 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 and the now defunct Landless Peoples Movement in South Africa.
Patel has written a number of criticisms of various aspects of the policies and research methods of the World Bank and was a co-editor, with Christopher Brooke, of the online leftist webzine The Voice of the Turtle.
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. He appears in the documentary film A Place at the Table which opened in the US on 1 March 2013.
Honours and awards
In 2007 he was invited to give the keynote address at the University of Abahlali baseMjondolo graduation ceremony. He administers the organisation's website. In 2008 he was asked to testify on the global food crisis before the House Financial Services Committee in the USA. In 2009 he joined the advisory board of Corporate Accountability International's Value the Meal campaign.
Patel is a libertarian socialist and has described himself as "someone who has very strong anarchist sympathies." 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 described himself in 2010 as "not a communist [or socialist] ... just open minded".
Nonetheless, the analysis of A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet, published seven years later, locates its concept of "cheapness" within a Marxist framework. According to the authors, "Capitalism values only what it can count, and it can count only dollars. Every capitalist wants to invest as little and profit as much as possible. For capitalism, this means that the whole system thrives when powerful states and capitalists can reorganize global nature, invest as little as they can, and receive as much food, work, energy, and raw materials with as little disruption as possible." This extrapolates a key formulation by Marx: “The battle of competition is fought by the cheapening of commodities.”
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.
- Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System (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 (2009)
- The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy (2010)
- Forward to No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way by the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers (2011)
- A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet (2017), with Jason W. Moore
- Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice (2021), with Rupa Marya
- Abahlali baseMjondolo
- Landless Peoples Movement
- Landless Workers' Movement
- Slow Food
- Via Campesina
- Zapatista Army of National Liberation
- James, Scott (4 February 2010). "In Internet Era, an Unwilling Lord for New Age Followers". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
- "Rajeev Patel". The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
- "Meet Raj". rajpatel.org. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
- Buccus, Imraan (23 March 2011). "World Class Intellectual Engagement". The Mercury.
- "Interview with Raj Patel". The New York Times blog. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- A Big Think Interview With Raj Patel From Junior Capitalist to Social Activist (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
- About himself at 21 minuti (Retrieved on 9 February 2010.)
- Johnson, Bobbie (19 March 2010). "I'm not the messiah, says food activist – but his many worshippers do not believe him". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
- Raj about his education (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
- Citizine Archived 29 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved on 8 February 2010.)
- Patel, Raj (2008). Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Melville House Publishing. ISBN 978-1-933633-49-7.
- Patel, Raj (2010). The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy. Picador. ISBN 978-0-312-42924-9.
- New York Times best-seller (nonfiction) (Retrieved on 1 March 2010.)
- New York Times best-seller (business) (Retrieved on 1 March 2010.)
- Patel, Raj (21 November 2009). "Speech at 21 minuti". Milan. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 20 March 2019 – via YouTube.
- "The Politics of Starving: An Interview with Raj Patel". Upping the Anti. 2010.
- Patel, Raj (2008). "The world bank and agriculture: A critical review at World bank's world development report" (PDF). rajpatel.info. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
- Patel, Raj. "Faulty Shades of Green: The World Bank Dissembles the Environment" (PDF). rajpatel.info. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
- 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.
- Raj Patel at IMDb
- Patel, Raj (10 June 2010). "Off-Side at the World Cup". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
- "Value the Meal Advisory Board". stopcorporateabuse.org. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
- James, Scott (4 February 2010). "In Internet Era, an Unwilling Lord for New Age Followers". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
- Johnson, Bobbie (19 March 2010). "I'm not the messiah, says food activist – but his many worshippers do not believe him". The Guardian. London.
- Patel, Raj (12 January 2010). "A Big Think Interview With Raj Patel". Big Think. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
- Patel, Raj (25 January 2010). "Raj Patel". Tavis Smiley. KCET. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010 – via PBS.org.
Me, I'm not a socialist, I'm just open-minded. But I think that we need to look at solutions that have happened in the past for us adequately to be able to come up with better ideas for the future, because this one, the ideas we have right now, really aren't working.
- A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet (U. of California Press, 2017), p. 21.
- Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy Vol. 1, trans. Ben Fowkes (Vintage, 1977), p. 777.
- Patel, Raj. "About global food economy". Marquette University. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
- Raj Patel blog (Retrieved on 10 February 2010.)
- "Raj Patel". Colbert Report. Retrieved 8 February 2010 – via colbertnation.com.
- 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."