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Heritages of Hunger: Societal Reflections on Past European Famines in Education, Commemoration and Musealisation

Radboud University – NWO project (NWA-ORC)

Project leaders: Prof. Marguérite Corporaal (Radboud University), Prof. Lotte Jensen (Radboud University, Dr Ingrid de Zwarte (Wageningen University & Research, NIOD)

Postdoc: Dr Gloria Román Ruiz

PhD candidates: Charley Boerman MA, Anne van Mourik MA


European famines legacies continue to impact debates about economic decline, refugees and Brexit. They are re-evoked to stress transnational conflict, but actually offer potential to promote mutual understanding. This project, conducted by seven researchers at Radboud University, and Wageningen University & Research, and the NIOD, investigates how educational practices (at schools, heritage sites, museums, or surrounding commemorative practices) can create awareness of famines as heritages of shared experiences and past solidarity among European communities. The case studies to be examined through a comparative approach are connected to episodes of war (Belgium and Germany during and after WWI; the Netherlands, Russia and Greece during WWII, Germany after WWII); neglect and ecological crisis (nineteenth-century Ireland, Finland) and oppression (interbellum Spain, Ukraine). Furthermore, the project addresses the significant impact on famine legacies in education and heritage practices of European immigrant communities across the globe. On the basis of its results, the consortium will create a MOOC and a database of visual and textual famine legacies. Both can be used adaptably by stakeholders (educational and heritage institutes), as a way to connect national and local pasts to wider European experiences, and as a stimulus for alternative teaching practices.

The project will also develop a report with recommendations for teaching heritages of hunger and migration directed towards policy makers, educational institutes and the heritage sector. The project budget is 1,8 million Euro, part of which is provided by collaborative partners in The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, The United Kingdom, Finland, Spain, Ukraine, Russia and Canada. These are: Resistance Museum, Amsterdam; Museum Rotterdam; Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp; EUROCLIO; Irish Heritage Trust, Dublin; Nerve Centre, Derry; Kuopio Cultural History Museum; Werstas Labour Museum; University of Granada; Centro Documental de la Memoria Historica, Salamanca; Netherlands Institute in St Saint Petersburg; Holodomor Research and Education Centre, Kyiv; Ireland Park Foundation, Toronto; Holodomor Research and Education Consortium, Toronto.

Image: Beeldbank WO2 – NIOD