Narratives of food insecurity in the penal colony: interpreting memories of ‘slow violence’ in French Guiana and New Caledonia

Fuggle, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-9688-9593, 2023. Narratives of food insecurity in the penal colony: interpreting memories of ‘slow violence’ in French Guiana and New Caledonia. Modern and Contemporary France. ISSN 0963-9489

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After decades of collective forgetting, heritage initiatives have resulted in the restoration of sites linked to France’s former penal colonies in French Guiana and New Caledonia which operated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In both territories, museums dedicated to the history of the ‘bagne’ have been created in buildings once used as kitchens and bakeries. However, as with other forms of penal heritage, the opportunity to create more nuanced and sustained narratives around the lived experience of food insecurity for those sent to the penal colonies remains subordinated to more sensationalist accounts of physical constraint and corporal punishment. This article analyses existing narratives and museography at the two sets of sites, identifying potential for further memory and interpretive work around food, nutrition, and sustainability. The article explores convict memoirs and correspondence that emphasise the ‘slow violence’ of malnutrition resulting from poor-quality produce and unequal distributions of rations amongst convict populations. The wider intention is to consider how historical narratives of food insecurity can be developed at sites of former penal heritage to foster awareness and empathy around contemporary forms of food poverty, emphasising that food insecurity is still used as a form of control within spaces of confinement.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Modern and Contemporary France
Creators: Fuggle, S.
Publisher: Informa UK Limited
Date: 4 August 2023
ISSN: 0963-9489
Rights: © 2023 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 22 Sep 2023 09:41
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2023 15:17

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