The fatal hunger strike of ten prisoners of the IRA in 1981, the fast of representative Jean Lassale in 2006, or moreover the group hunger strikes of non-documented workers and refugees: these examples show the important place of the hunger strike in contemporary protest methods.
The author proposes a historical tie from the birth of this mode of action at the beginning of the twentieth century with British suffragettes and Irish nationalists to its later use on every continent. Siméant details a panorama of different protest methods: individual and collective, inside and outside of prison walls, limited fasts and fatal hunger strikes.
Finally, she analyzes the impression of this style of protest: why are the protesters sometimes limited to this extreme method? What are the environmental influences at play? What is their relationship with the state and with the media?
Johanna Siméant is a Professor of Political Science at l'Université Paris-1-Panthéon-Sorbonne and a member of l'Institut universitaire de France.
KEY WORDS: Political protest - IRA - Gandhi - Non violence - Individual and collective action
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24 August 2009
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