Hunger stalks Britain today. It – and the fear of it – lives amongst us. We live in age of austerity and food banks, of attempts to define minimum needs and to reduce those without to the elemental basis of their needs. Hunger, then, never left. It persisted. The conclusion considers these persistences and parallels. It argues that policy stopped being a policy problem but instead became thought of as a policy tool, something to be used to control the population. The fixation on famine in past studies is therefore unhelpfully myotic. Hunger, it concludes, was more powerful, more pervasive, more ingrained into the fabric of everyday life and more central to policy-making and political projects than we have admitted. Hunger defined popular protest and popular politics. But to adopt a ‘history from below’ approach would not have been enough, would not have done justice to the fear and force of hunger, for the experience was necessarily framed by local and central policy-making. Hunger was central to experiments in government, it was used to make new subjects and to assert bodily and racial difference between peoples. Hunger was critical in the making of humanitarianism and early forms of transnational solidarities. Hunger matters.
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