“Ian Miller has produced a meticulously researched history of hunger striking in Britain and Ireland. This book covers the extent and nature of hunger striking by convicted persons in prisons as well as the more dramatic use of it in political struggles... Out of this comes a fascinating account of individuals and movements who embraced hunger striking throughout the last hundred years. The book is an excellent forensic examination of the medical and ethical issues hunger striking raises.”
Greta Jones, Ulster University
“Ian Miller has written a groundbreaking book. It takes the reader beyond the standard studies of hunger strikes adding new perspectives to our understanding of this controversial issue.”
Thomas Hennessey, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
"The idea of hunger strikes as a political weapon really takes hold in the early years of the 20th century when the Suffragettes employed food refusal as a means of protest – and it worked. Dr Ian Miller is a lecturer in history at Ulster University and has written widely about hunger strikes, drawing a direct line between the Suffragettes and perhaps the most famous hunger strikes of more contemporary times – the Republican prisoners held in the notorious Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in 1981."
A History of Force Feeding: Prisons, Hunger Strikes and Medical Ethics, 1909-1974 is the first monograph-length study of the force-feeding of hunger strikers in English, Irish and Northern Irish prisons. It examines ethical debates that arose throughout the 20th century when governments authorised the force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes, Irish republicans, conscientious objectors, Cold War peace activists, anarchists, IRA members and convict prisoners. It also explores the fraught role of prison doctors called upon to perform the procedure. Since the Home Office first authorised force-feeding in 1909, a number of questions have been raised about the procedure. Is force-feeding safe? Can it kill? Are doctors who feed prisoners against their will abandoning the medical ethical norms of their profession? And do state bodies use prison doctors to help tackle political dissidence at times of political crisis?
The World Medical Association formally declared force-feeding as unethical in 1975. Nonetheless, debates that are supposed to be confined to the past have once again resurfaced at Guantánamo Bay where hunger strikers are currently being fed against their will. A History of Force Feeding uses historical analysis to help make sense of an ongoing ethical problem and explain why force-feeding has always proven so publicly contentious.