chapter  7
Striking with Hunger: Cultural Meanings of Political Violence in Northern Ireland
ByBegoña Aretxaga
Pages 35

This chapter explores the cultural construction of political violence, both as a form of colonial domination and of resistance to that domination, through an interpretation of the 1981 Irish hunger strike. It considers the hunger strike a complex political event and a rich multilayered cultural text in which different political, historical, and personal strands converge-over determining and deconstructing each other-to create a situation generative of cultural meaning and social change. The chapter suggests that the hunger strike is best understood when placed into the larger context of the Anglo-Irish colonial relationship and the set of meanings and cultural identities that relationship created. It interprets Nationalist narratives of history and personal memories of dispossession. The chapter examines key categories used by colonial England in defining its political and economic relations with Ireland and their bearing on the British view of the current Northern Ireland conflict.