‘The unremitted pressure’
On hunger politics
in The politics of hunger
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By the early decades of the eighteenth century the peoples of England, so the received understanding goes, were beyond the ravages of famine. Southern England experienced its last ‘major’ famine in the 1590s, northern England a little later in the 1620s. There is, of course, both a quantitative and a qualitative difference between the experience and effects of mass famine deaths and the fear of hunger. For between being bodily replete with no fear of want in the future and death from want there exists a wide spectrum of hungers. Famine forms one, horrific, end of the spectrum but it is not the spectrum of human experience. This chapter explores these complex understandings and in so doing argues that by fixating on famine – however understandable that is – we necessarily deny the effects that the fear of perishing from want had on the peoples of England beyond the age of famine.

The politics of hunger

Protest, poverty and policy in England, c. 1750–c. 1850

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