Daniel Maxwell

Daniel MaxwellHenry J. Leir Professor in Food Security and Research Director
Henry J. Leir Professor in Food Security, Friedman School of Nutrition
Research Director, Feinstein International Center

Working with Feinstein Since: 2006
Based in: Somerville, MA

Daniel Maxwell is the Henry J. Leir Professor in Food Security at the Friedman School of Nutrition, Science, and Policy. He directs the Food Security and Livelihoods in Complex Emergencies Research Program at the Feinstein International Center, and in 2016-2017, he served as the Acting Director of the Center. His recent research focuses on the re-emergence of famines in the 21st century and the politics of analyzing and declaring famine. Dan also researches food security, resilience programming and measurement, and livelihood systems under stress. He teaches courses on food security, humanitarian action, humanitarian policy, and food insecurity in situations of crisis and chronic vulnerability.

Prior to joining the faculty at Tufts, Dan worked for two decades at humanitarian agencies and research institutes in Uganda, Ghana, and Kenya. His most recent position was Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa for CARE International.

He is the author, with Nisar Majid, of Famine in Somalia: Competing Imperatives, Collective Failures (Oxford University Press, 2016). He is the co-author, with Chris Barrett of Cornell University, of Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role (Routledge, 2005), and co-author with Peter Walker, of Shaping the Humanitarian World (Routledge, 2009).

He holds a B.Sc. from Wilmington College, a master’s degree from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Research Interests:
  • Famine and acute humanitarian crises
  • Humanitarian action
  • Resilience, livelihoods, food security, and the measurement of food security
  • Food assistance
  • Emergency preparedness, information systems, and contingency planning
  • Humanitarian operations and policy
Regional Focus:
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Greater Horn of Africa
Courses Taught:
  • Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies (NUTR 229/DHP D230), Fall Term
  • Seminar in Humanitarian Issues (NUTR 223), Fall Term
  • International Humanitarian Response (NUTR 324/DHP D-213), Spring Term
  • Transnational Social Issues: Humanitarian Assistance (GMAP 215)
  • Famine, Livelihoods, and Resilience: Directed Study, Spring Term
Most Cited Books and Articles:
  • Maxwell, D. “Measuring Food Insecurity: The Frequency and Severity of ‘Coping Strategies.’” Food Policy 21, 3 (1996). 291–303.
  • Maxwell, D., Levin, C., Armar-Klemesu, M., Ruel, M., Morris, S., Ahiadeke, C. “Urban Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Greater Accra.” IFPRI Research Report 112. Washington: International Food Policy Research Institute. (2000).
  • Maxwell, D. “Alternative Food Security Strategy: A Household Analysis of Urban Agriculture in Kampala.” World Development 23, 10 (1995). 1669–1681.
  • Barrett, C. & Maxwell, D. Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting its Role. London: Routledge. (2005).
  • Maxwell, D. “The Political Economy of Urban Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.” World Development 27, 11 (1999). 1939–1953.
Most Recent External Publications:
  • Maxwell, D. & Gelsdorf, K. Understanding the Humanitarian World. London: Routledge. (Forthcoming 2019).
  • Maxwell, D & Hailey, P. “The Re-emergence of Famine in the 21st Century.” Special Edition on, “La lutte contre la famine: un mythe de Sisyphe?” Politorbis. No. 66. (March 2018). 13-22.
  • Maxwell, D., Gordon, R., Moro, L., Santschi, M., Dau, P. “Trajectories of International Engagement with State and Local Actors: Evidence from South Sudan.” Journal of Intervention and State Building 12(1) (2018). 98-119.
  • Vaitla, B., Coates, J., Glaeser, L., Hillbruner, C.,* Biswas, P.,* Maxwell, D. “The measurement of household food security: Correlation and latent variable analysis of alternative indicators in a large multi-country dataset.” Food Policy 68 (April 2017). 193-205.
  • Seal, A., Hailey, P., Bailey, R., Maxwell, D., Majid, N. “Famine, conflict, and political indifference. Catastrophic combination for the people of Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Northern Nigeria.” British Medical Journal 357 (2017). 2196-97.

News Items

Daniel Maxwell and Peter Hailey publish article in Food Policy
February 3, 2020

Dan Maxwell and Peter Hailey published their article “Determining famine: Multi-dimensional analysis for the twenty-first century” in Food Policy. The article examines current methods of famine analysis and argues that…

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Dan Maxwell publishes new book on humanitarian action
June 3, 2019

In May 2019, Dan Maxwell and Kirsten Gelsdorf published their new book: Understanding the Humanitarian World. This book highlights the origins, growth, and specific challenges to, humanitarian action and examine why…

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Feinstein Research Projects

Social Connectedness, Livelihoods, and Resilience in Complex Emergencies

In this partnership with Mercy Corps, the Feinstein International Center team investigates the nature of social networks and social connectedness, and explores how humanitarian assistance can strengthen these as a key aspect of resilience, recovery and relief interventions in complex humanitarian emergencies.

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The Constraints and Complexities of Information and Analysis

This study seeks to understand the availability and quality of information, and the external influences on data collection and analysis for the classification of food emergencies.

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Feinstein Publications

Towards Anticipatory Information Systems and Action: Notes on Early Warning and Early Action in East Africa
Towards Anticipatory Info Systems Cover
By Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey | January 2020

This paper reviews issues with contemporary humanitarian information and early warning systems. While the cases focus on the East Africa region, they have broader implications as well.

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Famine Early Warning and Information Systems in Conflict Settings: Challenges for Humanitarian Metrics and Response
famine early warning
By Daniel Maxwell | November 2019

Attention to the growing number of people caught in crises characterized by extreme and often protracted levels of food insecurity, malnutrition, and mortality is increasing. The information systems that track…

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