Gaarkeuken Montreal 1931
Gaarkeuken Montreal 1931

Heritages of Hunger

Societal Reflections on Past European Famines in Education, Commemoration and Musealisation
2020 until 2025
Project member(s)
Prof. M.C.M. Corporaal (Marguérite) Prof. L.E. Jensen (Lotte) Dr C.T. Cusack (Christopher) C. Boerman (Charley) Dr M. Bentum (Martijn) , Dr. Ingrid de Zwarte , Dr Anne-Lise Bobeldijk , Anne van Mourik, MA , Helmi Moret, MA , Dr Janssen, L. (Lindsay) (former employee) , Dr Deborah Madden (former employee) , Dr Gloria Román Ruiz (former employee)
Project type

Past European famines have long legacies as their memories continue to impact current debates about economic decline, refugees, Brexit, and COVID-19. Often, they are evoked to stress transnational conflict. Heritages of Hunger (HoH) demonstrates that the memories of these pasts actually offer the potential to promote transcultural and transhistorical understanding. The project is conducted by researchers at Radboud University, Wageningen University & Research, and the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD), and collaborates with a global consortium network of educators, researchers, and institutions.

HoH comparatively investigates heritages surrounding the following case studies: episodes of war (Belgium and Germany during and after WWI; the Netherlands, Russia, and Greece during WWII, Germany after WWII); neglect and ecological crisis (Ireland and Finland during the nineteenth century), and oppression (interbellum Spain, Ukraine).

Moreover, HoH analyses educational practices at schools, museums, and surrounding commemorative initiatives, and addresses the significant mutual impact between such practices and immigrant communities in Europe and across the globe. HoH will result in a report with teaching recommendations, aimed at policy makers, educational institutes, and the heritage sector. It will also deliver educational materials for learners of all ages in the form of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and an open-access digital repository of textual, visual, and audio materials about the famines at the heart of the project. 

Logo research project Heritages of Hunger

These materials are adaptable to the educational needs of various end users and will suggest ways in which past experiences of famine from various contexts are similar or can be connected on local, national, and global levels. As such, HoH provides a stimulus for alternative teaching practices.

Seven research projects

HoH consists of seven research projects that each cover a specific famine, or specific set of famines.

Spain’s Años del Hambre

This subproject investigates the legacies of the Spanish Years of Hunger (1939–1952).

Teaching Ireland’s Great Famine

This project examines past and present educational materials and practices in primary and secondary education, museums and other heritage institutes.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B0527-0001-753, Krefeld, Hungerwinter Demonstration

Weaponising the Past

This subproject investigates developments in the narrativisation of hunger in textbooks and museum exhibitions between 1914-2020 in Germany.

Framing Famines

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.

The Arrival (2007), Rowan Gillespie, Toronto

Teaching Great Famine Legacies in North America

The research project Teaching Great Famine Legacies in North America is conducted by Prof. Marguérite Corporaal and investigates a rich corpus of Famine-related educational curricula and practices used by a host of institutions in the US and Canada.

De Armen-Inrigting "Toevlugt voor Behoeftigen" te Amsterdam, ca. 1850, Stadsarchief Amsterdam

The 1845–1848 Famine in Flanders and the Netherlands

This project, conducted by Prof. Lotte Jensen, investigates this question, as well as how these famine legacies have been transmitted by museums, school curricula, and commemorative practices in the past and present.

Kinderen kregen een halve liter bijvoeding per dag tijdens de Hongerwinter, verschaft door het Interkerkelijk Bureau. Foto gemaakt in opdracht van het IKB.

Between Conflict and Solidarity

This project is conducted by Dr Ingrid de Zwarte and analyses discourses of victim/perpetrator and solidarity in three heritage traditions centred on conflict between two nations.


The consortium brings together experts on various European famines from a wide range of scholarly disciplines and institutions key to Heritages of Hunger.

The researchers in the project’s core team are affiliated to Radboud University (RU), Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD). Researchers at WUR and NIOD focus on the effects war, famines, the Holocaust and other genocides have on the individual and societal level. NIOD also advises governmental bodies and is leading in public debates and events concerning war-related violence. RU’s Department of Modern Languages and Cultures is a hub in Irish studies and has specifically addressed legacies of the Great Irish Famine over the past years. Scholars in Dutch studies at RU engage with issues of national identity formation in light of disasters and war. Research on famines has been conducted at RU since 2011, supported by the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH).

Consortium partners come from multiple countries and disciplines and provide co-funding, advice, and specific expertise relating to the teaching, conservation, and research of hunger, migration, poverty, and conflict. Besides providing valuable feedback for research and knowledge utilisation purposes, these partners will also be involved in the pilot phase and implementation of the project’s digital educational resources. Furthermore, they will facilitate public events and output. The list of consortium partners can be found below.

A more detailed description of the consortium can be found below.

Read about Consortium

Become involved

Are you an educator who uses legacies of hunger in teaching practices and do you work in a primary or secondary school, or in a museum or the heritage industry? Would you like to help us develop and test our educational materials? Please send us an email indicating your interest at HoH [at] (HoH[at]let[dot]ru[dot]nl).

Want to know more about the theoretical framework we are using in this project? What our objectives are? Or how we make societal impact with our work and the results that flow from it? We'd love to tell you about it! Send an email to HoH [at] (HoH[at]let[dot]ru[dot]nl) and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.



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.

Contact information