Edited Collection on the Aesthetics and Politics of Hunger (15 June,2014)
Within the past 50 years, practitioners of cultural studies and the humanities more generally have addressed the question of hunger in terms of the immediate, individual body. For example, scholars such as Susan Bordo have considered the ways in which individual practices of self-imposed hunger (for example, anorexia and bulimia) have played a significant role in the maintenance of Western, patriarchal standards of beauty and heteronormative relations. Although this present study acknowledges the contributions made by earlier interventions such as Bordo's, it ultimately seeks to address the question of hunger within a wider, historical-materialist framework. That is, it considers hunger not simply as an individual choice or local predicament that sustains dominant ideologies, but rather as a complex, systemic, and culturally- and historically-contingent category that influences ways of thinking and being within a world increasingly connected through discourses of urbanization. For example, this study considers the ways in which mass hunger has been engineered toward the service of state and/or imperial objectives. Likewise, it considers how individual acts of self-imposed hunger – such as the hunger-strikes performed by nineteenth-century Anglo-American suffragettes, Ghandian practitioners of non-violence, and internees at Guantanamo Bay – articulate political visions that ultimately depend upon an implicitly aesthetic or performative logic. In the final analysis, then, this collection seeks to account for the political and aesthetic implications of hunger. Moreover, it considers how historical instances of mass hunger, as well as their aesthetic representations, inform ethical thinking and practice within a transnational critical framework.
The editors of this collection invite essays that address the following questions:
• What are the implications of contemporary scholarly and political uses of the term "hunger"? For example, has the term "hunger" gradually come to displace the term "famine" or do the two exist in an adjacency – and how might we account for the discursive relationship between these two categories?
• How might we account for famines that have been either implicitly tolerated by imperial/state entities or explicitly engineered by them? (For example, the nineteenth-century Irish potato famine, the 1933 Soviet famine [the "Holodomor"], , the Bengal famine of 1943, the Chinese famine of the late 1950's and early '60's, or the Sudanese famine of the late 1980's)?
o How do aesthetic representations – e.g., paintings, sculptures, poems, novels, films, etc -- interrogate the political implications of these "man-made" famines?
• What are the ethics of representing hunger/famine?
o How, for example, might we interrogate cases such as that of the photojournalist Kevin Carter, whose iconic photograph of a starving Sudanese girl simultaneously inspired both Carter's breakdown and suicide and a larger global awareness of the Sudanese famine?
• How might we consider the relationship between hunger and memory? Hunger and nostalgia? Hunger and desire?
o How are these questions especially intensified in diasporic settings?
• What is the relationship between hunger and global and or local migrations of labor? How do aesthetic works represent, and re-imagine, the commerce of this relationship?
• What correspondences might one draw between hunger and climate change?
o How, moreover, might such relatively new intellectual discourses such as ecocriticism and eco-Marxism provide insight into questions of global hunger?
• What is the relationship between global hunger and food politics?
o How, for example, does the introduction of genetically modified organisms
(GMO's) into the global economy complicate discourses of hunger, consumption, exchange, (mal)nutrition, and trade?
o How do global corporations such as Monsanto influence patterns of both consumption and hunger?
o What is the utopian promise in such interventions as the "slow-food" movement and the "organic" movement – and how has such promise been co-opted by both neo-liberal and conservative discourse?
o What role does the problem of hunger play in current U.S. (or other national) debates over health insurance, education, agricultural subsidies, etc?
• How might we think of hunger in terms of gender, sexuality, and childhood?
o How, for example, might we consider hunger in terms of a global "feminization of poverty"?
o How do we think of hunger in terms of vulnerability – and how does the figure of the child or the marginalized individual allow us to rethink both vulnerability and hunger?
• What politics and aesthetics are implicit within specific instances of hunger strikes?
o How do hunger strikes imply both an aesthetics and politics of the body? How, moreover, do they rely upon (public) performance?
o How do particular instantiations of hunger strikes – e.g. by nineteenth-century Anglo-American suffragettes, by Ghandi in response to the mid-twentieth-century British occupation of India, or by current inmates at the U.S. prison a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – make political claims through aesthetic and performative ends?
o How might one interpret state-supported responses to hunger strikes?
How, for example, might one identify parallels between the force-feeding of suffragettes and LGBT protesters and state-sponsored rape?
How, moreover, might the force-feeding of hunger-strikers at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. prisons imply the sustainment of biological life that nevertheless precludes the possibility of political life, pace Foucault and Agamben?
• Other proposals that address the politics and aesthetics of hunger will certainly be considered.
Please submit a 500 - 750 word abstract and 200-word biographical note to both Dr. Manisha Basu of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Anastasia Ulanowicz of the University of Florida (email@example.com) by 15 June 2014. Authors will be notified of acceptance by 15 August, 2014. If accepted, chapters will be due in late 2014.