Wednesday, 18 July 2012

BBC RADIO 3, Tristram Hunt on Robert Malthus

Tonight I will be listening to BBC Radio 3 - Tristram Hunt on Robert Malthus...

Below, text from the BBC Radio 3 web site, and link...

'Robert Malthus

Episode 1 of 3, Great British Ideas


In this new series for BBC Radio 3, historian Tristram Hunt rediscovers the stories of three ideas that emerged in Britain - and then traces how their impact has spread far beyond our shores.

In the first programme, Tristram explores how the insight of the great British economist, the Reverend Robert Malthus (1766-1834), wreaked havoc in 19th century India - and yet was later adopted by Indians themselves. Malthus argued that the number of people in the world will always tend to increase faster than the supply of food to feed them. The only way to prevent this was to act to lower the birth rate. Or to wait for famine, war and disease to intervene...'

In a chapter published some time ago I laid some ground rules, giving a wider context to the study of the Irish Famine, mapping out the obvious connections with British India, and exploring the ways in which Malthus' theories were put into practice.

O'Sullivan, P. & Lucking, R.
The Famine world-wide: the Irish Famine and the development of famine policy and famine theory
1997, The Meaning of the Famine, Volume 6 of The Irish World Wide.

I am now in the middle of writing up two research projects on the experiences of Irish Famine victims and refugees.  We will see where Tristram Hunt goes with this.

My thanks to my friend, Kenneth E. Smith, for bringing this radio programme to my attention.

Patrick O'Sullivan

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