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Breandán Mac Suibhne
Centenary College (Hackettstown, NJ 07840-2184)
At the Famine Pot: A Whispered History of Ireland's Great Hunger, 1845-1851

Preparation of a book length study of the various ways the poor experienced and responded to the Irish Famine (1845-1851).

Studies of Ireland’s Great Famine (1845–51) have been burdened by a preoccupation with what was done to and for the poor—by the state, landlords and charities. Here, innovative recent writing on the Famine (and famine generally) informs a new approach, which directs attention to what the poor did to and for each other. Hence, the focus is on a) agency—protests by the poor, and practical self-help endeavors; b) poor-on-poor violence, theft, the unequal allocation of food within families, and also cannibalism; c) accommodation, including 'souperism,' conversion to obtain food from evangelicals; and d) exploitation of the poor by people who were not themselves much better off. Central to the book are accounts of the Famine collected from survivors and their children. As such, it is a 'whispered history,' attentive to that of which the poor spoke, albeit quietly, and it bears comparison to recent work on China’s Great Famine (Zhou Xun) and reflections on ethics in extremis (Primo Levi).

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Economic History; European History; Folklore and Folklife

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017