Scales of Hunger - Nadine Botha

Hunger is one of the baseline biological and moral imperatives of humanity: denying someone’s hunger is widely considered inhumane. Yet we do — individually in our own bodies, interpersonally to people in need, and globally on socio-economic and geopolitical scales — and we tend to forget that hunger can also be a position of power, when protesting or fasting, for instance. Then what is hunger exactly?

This question can be answered on multiple scales from microscopic scales of biology and even quantum physics to macro-scales of global environmental and geopolitical infrastructure; from individual somatic, psychological and phenomenological scales, to collective scales of myth, memories and ways of being together. Considering these multiple scales of hunger points to the need to interrogate hunger as the baseline of Mazlow’s pyramid: does it in fact perpetuate a declassification of people-in-need as being not-quite-human? What do hungry people really need — are we sure it is food?

Students of the Scales of Hunger design studio will be tasked with situating their research around a real person’s experiences and needs. The ethical role and responsibilities of design and the designer when working on projects that have real-life repercussions will be a constant point of reflection and re-evaluation. Nonetheless, students are encouraged to use the studio as a space of exception that allows experimenting with radical prototypes for new, caring ways of being hungry.


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Bente Meindertsma

Netherlands Food Partnership