Holodomor and Gorta Mór

Holodomor and Gorta Mór

Histories, Memories and Representations of Famine in Ukraine and Ireland

Edited by Christian Noack
Lindsay Janssen
Vincent Comerford

Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

Anthem Irish Studies

Anthem Studies in European Ideas and Identities

A comparative study of the famines of Ireland (1845–51) and Ukraine (1932–33), and how historical experiences of famine were translated into narratives that supported political claims for independent national statehood.

PDF, 286 Pages


November 2012

£20.00, $32.00

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About This Book

Ireland’s Great Famine or ‘an Gorta Mór’ (1845–51) and Ukraine’s ‘Holodomor’ (1932–33) occupy central places in the national historiographies of their respective countries. Acknowledging that questions of collective memory have become a central issue in cultural studies, this volume inquires into the role of historical experiences of hunger and deprivation within the emerging national identities and national historical narratives of Ireland and Ukraine. In the Irish case, a solid body of research has been compiled over the last 150 years, while Ukraine’s Holodomor, by contrast, was something of an open secret that historians could only seriously research after the demise of communist rule. This volume is the first attempt to draw these approaches together and to allow for a comparative study of how the historical experiences of famine were translated into narratives that supported political claims for independent national statehood in Ireland and Ukraine. Juxtaposing studies on the Irish and Ukrainian cases written by eminent historians, political scientists, and literary and film scholars, the essays in this interdisciplinary volume analyse how national historical narratives were constructed and disseminated – whether or not they changed with circumstances, or were challenged by competing visions, both academic and non-academic. In doing so, the essays discuss themes such as representation, commemoration and mediation, and the influence of these processes on the shaping of cultural memory.


‘The scholarship of this volume is its outstanding feature. Ranging from authoritative overviews by leading scholars in the fields of Irish and Ukrainian famine studies to essays that draw on new sources that provide fresh insights, this collection adds to the possibilities for understanding created by the juxtaposition of these two modern famines.’ —Professor Chris Morash, Head of School of English, Media & Theatre Studies, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

‘The editors and authors have taken narratives of suffering of the Irish and the Ukrainians during the great famines outside of national mythologies and compared them. What they achieve goes far beyond Irish and Ukrainian history: this volume enhances our understanding of the ways in which societies deal with their historical traumas and manage to turn them into building blocks of modern national identities.’ —Serhii Plokhii, Professor of Ukrainian History, Harvard University

‘The authors bring great variety to their methods of approaching the famines, ranging from historiography and political journalism to literary and film analysis to the politics of memorialisation and geographers’ new technologies for plotting demographic and economic processes.’ —Mark von Hagen, Professor of History, Arizona State University

‘“Holodomor and Gorta Mór” is the first sustained comparison of two of the most devastating famines in modern European history. By assembling a team of international experts, the editors probe the complex construction of cultural memories of famine in Ireland and the Ukraine. The result is a fascinating collection that will be essential reading for scholars in history, literature and cultural studies.’ —Dr Enda Delaney, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh

‘Writing from broadly diverse vantage points and engaging a variety of competing interpretations of two events that are so different yet so similar, the contributors achieve an amazing effect: historical memory, stripped of its ritualised conventional forms is alive and burning once again, and raises new questions.’ —Dr Ilya Gerasimov, founder and Executive Editor of ‘Ab Imperio’

‘Both the Ukraine and Ireland were devastated by great famines of appalling scale and intensity. These historical traumas, and how they were handled by two very different societies, make for compelling reading. “Holodomor and Gorta Mór” is a pioneering work in parallel histories that opens new vistas on Irish and Ukrainian studies, and indeed on the handling of famine memory more generally. Theoretically sophisticated and resting on deep learning, this multiauthored volume is also characterised by a humane concern for the victims of famine, the survivors and their descendants.’ —Professor Liam Kennedy, Queen’s University Belfast

‘The essays in this pioneering collection provide unexplored comparisons between two wide-scale European famines in contexts of imperialism, politicization and nationalism. They offer transnational, interdisciplinary perspectives on two formative episodes in the colonial past of Europe, thereby contributing significantly to current scholarly debates on trauma, historiography, memory and popular culture.’ —Marguérite Corporaal, principal investigator of the ERC-project ‘Relocated Remembrance: The Great Famine in Irish (Diaspora) Fiction, 1847–1921’, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Author Information

Christian Noack is Associate Professor of European Studies at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Lindsay Janssen is currently a PhD candidate at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Vincent Comerford is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.


Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

Anthem Irish Studies

Anthem Studies in European Ideas and Identities

Table of Contents

List of Figures; Acknowledgements; Introduction: ‘Holodomor and Gorta Mór: Histories, Memories and Representations of Famine in Ukraine and Ireland’ – Christian Noack, Lindsay Janssen and Vincent Comerford; PART I: HISTORIES, HISTORIOGRAPHY AND POLITICS: Chapter 1: ‘Holodomor in Ukraine 1932–1933: An Interpretation of Facts’ – Stanislav V. Kulchytskyi (Translated from Russian by Christian Noack); Chapter 2: ‘Ethnic Issues in the Famine of 1932–1933 in Ukraine’ – David R. Marples; Chapter 3: ‘Grievance, Scourge or Shame? The Complexity of Attitudes to Ireland’s Great Famine’ – Vincent Comerford; PART II: PUBLIC COMMEMORATION: Chapter 4: ‘History and National Identity Construction: The Great Famine in Irish and Ukrainian History Textbooks’ – Jan Germen Janmaat; Chapter 5: ‘Teaching Hunger: The Great Irish Famine Curriculum in New York State Schools’ – Maureen O. Murphy; Chapter 6: ‘Remembering Famine Orphans: The Transmission of Famine Memory between Ireland and Quebec’ – Jason King; Chapter 7: ‘The Irish Famine and Commemorative Culture’ – Emily Mark-FitzGerald; PART III: TRAUMA AND VICTIMISATION: Chapter 8: ‘Holodomor and the Politics of Memory in Ukraine after Independence’ – Heorhiy Kasianov (Translated from Russian by Christian Noack); Chapter 9: ‘The Great Irish Famine in Stories for Children in the Closing Decades of the Twentieth Century’ – Celia Keenan; Chapter 10: ‘Collective Trauma in a Feature Film: “Golod-33” as One-of-a-Kind’ – Olga Papash (Translated from Russian by Christian Noack); PART IV: NEW SOURCES AND NEW APPROACHES TO THE IRISH AND UKRAINIAN FAMINES: Chapter 11: ‘In Search of New Sources: Polish Diplomatic and Intelligence Reports on the Holodomor’ – Jan Jacek Bruski (Translated from Polish by Alicja Waligóra-Zblewska and Christian Noack); Chapter 12: ‘Oral History, Oral Tradition and the Great Famine’ – Maura Cronin; Chapter 13: ‘Mapping Population Change in Ireland 1841–1851: Quantitative Analysis Using Historical GIS’ – Mary Kelly, A. Stewart Fotheringham and Martin Charltoni; Index


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