Theoretical Approach

The following research fields inspire the project:

Memory studies

Memory studies explores the transhistorical and transnational transmission of memory. HoH will look specifically at the dynamic intersections between the cultural memories of various communities and the as yet relatively unexplored educational dimension of famine legacies.

Education studies

Over the past decade, education studies have invested in cultural diversity. The field has also increasingly addressed how educational practices mediate troubled pasts as well as processes of reconciliation. Both frameworks will be resources for the project team to assess past and present teaching practices. Moreover, technology has given a strong impulse to educational practices, at schools and in the cultural and public sector. New technologies have increased the accessibility and attractiveness of teaching, especially for younger generations. The project team will research how to effectively use new technologies in learning environments.

Afbeelding15 Famine Memorial in Nilsia, Finland. Photograph by Andrew Newby

Famine studies

Generally, there have been very few attempts in famine studies to look beyond the boundaries of ethnicity and nationality. HoH will significantly advance present research through its comparative and interdisciplinary approach and its innovative focus on education and heritage practices.

Identity studies

The European famines that are central to the project took place in periods of severe upheaval which often led to emigration (Ireland, Finland, Spain), and occurred under conditions of imperialism (Ireland, Finland), authoritarian regimes (Ukraine, Spain), or foreign occupation (the Netherlands, Greece). The project will therefore specifically evaluate its findings against the background of concepts concerning colonial identities, and the role of multiculturalism in relation to educational practices. Modern European famine pasts are also taught in schools and on heritage sites outside their local and national contexts. Therefore, they enable research on ways in which ethnic communities in diaspora contribute to the teaching of these famines. Such diasporic teaching practices are also investigated by the project team.


John Behan, National Famine Memorial (Murrisk, Co. Mayo, 1997).
Copyright N. Chadwick and reuse licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Gender studies

Cultural representations of European famines have often been influenced by gender, especially in their focus on female victims. The project addresses issues of culpability, reparation and reconciliation from the perspective of gender. It goes beyond this theoretical lens by also engaging with the role of gender in teaching practices and heritage, assessing the impact of gender on European famine education in terms of agency in and accessibility to Famine heritage.

Heritage studies

HoH will situate national examples of famine legacies in wider European and global contexts of ‘dark’ heritage and the politics of ‘identity’ institutions. Additionally, HoH will explore potential tensions between institutionally recognised and alternative approaches to heritage.

Please read more about the fields that inspire our interdisciplinary research project here (pdf, 243 kB).