When is someone a political prisoner and what does it mean to be one? In an attempt to suppress the Irish Republican Army, the British government was holding IRA members behind bars in 1981, in HM Prison Maze in Northern Ireland. Although harsh prison life made the lives of these men very difficult, in their eyes this was not the worst of it: not being recognised as political prisoners was their major grievance. As a result they tried everything possible to prevent their cause from being erased from history and their efforts from being forgotten, no matter the cost.

Hunger (2008), directed by Steve McQueen, is a vivid portrayal of the tragedy of the Northern Ireland conflict referred to as the ‘Troubles’ and the imprisonment of members of the IRA. In a brief lecture, Dr A.L. de Heus will compare the struggles of the IRA as portrayed in the film to her own findings, based on her research as well as interviews with IRA members.

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