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Famine, Entitlement and Inequality

Please come to class prepared to discuss the history of either the Irish Potato Famine or the Great Bengal Famine
Questions to Consider While Reading

Explain Sen’s idea that famine is caused by ‘entitlement gap’, rather than a lack of food.


Please read one piece from at least two sections.

Irish Potato Famine

Bragg, Melvyn, 'The Great Irish Famine', In Our Time, 4 April, 2019, BBC Radio 4, opens in a new window

Gray, Peter, 'Famine and Land, 1845-1880', Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish History, ed. Alvin Jackson (Oxford, 2014), 544-561.

General Histories of Famine

Ochoa, Enrique, 'Political Histories of Food', Oxford Handbooks Online.

O’Gráda, Cormac, Famine: A Short History (Princeton, 2009), 159-194.

Amartya Sen and the Great Bengal Famine

Sen, Amartya, ‘Ingredients of Famine Analysis: Availability and Entitlements’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 96:3 (1981), 433-464.

Sen, Amartya, ‘Starvation and Exchange Entitlements: A General Approach and its application to the Great Bengal famine’, Cambridge Journal of Economics 1:1 (1977), 33-59.

To Learn More

Daly, Mary, ‘Revisionism and Irish History: the Great Famine’, The Making of Modern Irish History, eds. D.G. Boyce and A. O’Day (London, 1996), 71-89.
Davis, Mike, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (London, 2002).*

Donnelly, James, ‘The Great Famine: its Interpreters, Old and New’, History of Ireland 3:1 (1993), 27-33.

Earle, Rebecca, <em>Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato</em> (Cambridge, 2020), 151-157.*

Gray, Peter, ‘Potatoes and Providence: British Government Responses to the Great Famine’, Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal 1:1 (1994), 75-90.

Gray, Peter, 'Famine and Land in Ireland and India, 1845-1880', Historical Journal 49:1 (2006), 193-215.*

Greenough, Paul Robert, Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal: The Famine of 1943-1944 (Oxford, 1982).

Kinealy, Christine, A Death-Dealing Famine: The Great Hunger in Ireland (London, 1997).*

Messer, Ellen, 'Hunger and Famine Worldwide', The Handbook of Food Research, eds. Anne Murcott, Warren Belasco and Peter Jackson (London, 2013).
O’Grada, Cormac, The Great Irish Famine (Cambridge, 1995), 9-64.*

Sen, Amartya, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (Oxford, 1982).*

Tauger, Mark, ‘Entitlement, Shortage, and the Bengal Famine of 1943: Another Look’, Journal of Peasant Studies 31:1 (2003), 45-72.

Vernon, James, Hunger: A Modern History (Cambridge, 2007).*

*Sign into the Warwick Library catalogue to access the electronic version.