GAMES OF HUNGER: THE POLITICS OF FAMINE, STATE-BUILDING PROCESSES AND CONTEMPORARY HUNGER STRIKES IN EUROPE – THE CASES OF NORTHERN IRELAND AND UKRAINE
The famines and periods of prolonged hunger that took place in Europe in the last centuries had a complex social dynamics and substantial transformative potential that still influence European politics. Dramatic cultural representations of hunger and starvation became deeply engaged in various modern nationalist narrations in order to open up new sources of political legitimacy for newly arising nation states. The periods of the Great Famine and Holodomor were at the same time moments of an extremely intense consolidation of Irish and Ukrainian national identities and the collective mindsets of multiple communities. Those identities became major political forces on the peripheries of the Old Continent. Hence, some strategies of transforming the experience of hunger into politically beneficial strategies of civic resistance were developed. Those tactics determined the future roles of both political and civil actors in sovereignty conflicts. Using a comparative approach, this paper explores the way in which the state-building processes in Ukraine and Northern Ireland in the 20th and 21st centuries were framed by famines, the raise of civic society, hunger strikes, and how the mindset of food scarcity grew into the nations’ characters. The mindset has turned into a serious drive for some political projects in Ukraine and Ireland to become modern nation states integrated with increasingly globalized European societies. The compelling and enchanting cultural narrations on hunger are profoundly up-to-date and political, as well as European phenomena, and as such should be analyzed – through the conceptual lens of modernity and postmodernity, and the international forms of political and economic coercions.