Framing Famines

Memory, Museums, and Visual Culture
2020 until 2025
Project member(s)
C. Boerman (Charley)
Project type

The research project titled Framing Famines: Memory, Museums, and Visual Culture is conducted by Charley Boerman, MA, and explores the visual and material memory cultures of nineteenth-century Finnish famines, the Ukrainian Holodomor, and the Greek famine that occurred during the occupation by the Axis powers in WWII.

The project traces the tropes and themes of these famines through historiography, monuments, famine sites, museum exhibitions, photography, and cinema. The transnational analysis allows the project to move beyond the distinctly national character and mythology often ascribed to famines. Instead, it will focus on different scales of memory formation, local/regional tensions compared to national/hegemonic narratives, the commonalities and disparities in famine memory and representation, and how these are informed by global commemorative practices.

Traumatic events, such as famine, are often said to be unrepresentable, but, paradoxically, they are frequently the subject of, amongst others, film, photography, and exhibitions. The focus on the different media through which these famines are addressed, allows for further investigation into the strategies of representation, and how themes and tropes refer to each other.

Framing Famines foregrounds how memories of the past are (re)mediated from comparative perspectives, and how this influences a perception or experience of the past. This, in turn, influences the perception of ourselves in the present and our imaginaries of the future.

This research project is one of seven subprojects of Heritages of Hunger



The project is supported by a board of hunger experts and partners from the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Ireland, UK, Ukraine, Russian & Canada. These are: Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam; Museum Rotterdam; Red Star Line Museum, Antwerpen; EUROCLIO; Irish Heritage Trust, Dublin; Nerve Centre Derry; Kuopio Cultural History Museum; Werstas Labour Museum; Universiteit van Granada; Centro Documental de la Memoria Historica, Salamanca; Nederlands Instituut in Sint-Petersburg; Holodomor Research and Education Centre, Kiev; Ireland Park Foundation, Toronto; Holodomor Research and Education Consortium, Toronto.

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