October 6-9, Nashville, TN

Raj Patel

Controversial author, journalist, and food policy expert

Opening Ceremony Keynote Speaker
Sunday, October 6
5:00 p.m.

Raj Patel continuously challenges our presumptions about the global economy with his work both as a policy analyst and activist. He has worked for some of the most prestigious international organizations—and protested against them—and constantly works to find ways to improve the world’s food system.

After working for the World Bank, interning at the World Trade Organization, and consulting for the United Nations, Patel has become a harsh critic of their methods and has been tear-gassed on four continents protesting against them. Patel’s thoughts on food, hunger, and globalization have appeared in a number of U.S. and international news sources, including The Los Angeles Times, NYTimes.com, and The Guardian. He has been featured in Newsweek and Time and has appeared on The Colbert Report, the BBC, and NPR, as well as a range of recent food and economic documentaries (Payback, Queen of the Sun, Finding North).

His most recent book, "The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy," has been hailed as a deeply thought-provoking guide to the way economics work, exploring the recent economic collapse and painting a clear picture of how to achieve a fairer, more sustainable economy and society.

In his keynotes, the author of the acclaimed book "Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System" not only diagnoses the causes behind our worldwide food crisis but offers sustainable and feasible solutions to deal with it. An engaging speaker, Raj Patel rouses his audience through his highly pertinent discussions of globalization and the world’s food system.

The London native graduated from Balliol College at Oxford University and, by way of the London School of Economics, went on to pursue his Ph.D. from Cornell University, which led him to research economic and cultural globalization.

Patel is an advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, and has testified to Congress on the causes of the world food crisis. He is involved in several international organizations, including the Land Research Action Network (LRAN), a network of researchers and social movements committed to the promotion and advancement of the fundamental rights of individuals and communities to land. He also works with La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement advancing the cause of food sovereignty around the world, and with the South African shackdwellers organization, Abahlali baseMjondolo, the largest independent group advocating social change in South Africa.

The co-author of both "Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform" and "Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice," Raj Patel has also published a range of academic articles appearing in publications as varied as PLoS Medicine, the Journal of Peasant Studies, and Radical Philosophy. His work has been translated into dozens of languages.

He is working on a major documentary film project on how to feed the world in the future with acclaimed director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams," "The Interrupters") and Participant Media ("An Inconvenient Truth," "Food, Inc.").

Patel is currently a visiting scholar in the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and an honorary research fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also the recipient of an IATP Food and Community Fellowship and is a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First.