Hunger Strikes: When the Body Becomes a Battlefield



A hunger striker looks so frail and yet commands a political force that is the inverse of that frailty, a force that stems not only from the demand of justice it performs but also from the very form of that performance: the protracted and painful yet carefully managed process of deliberate self-harm. Indeed, it is difficult not to consider willed self-starvation under detention or in prison as an act of defiance, even a form of asymmetric warfare, against the state, one that is exacerbated all the more when that starvation is performed en masse. Such an act, whether individual or collective, points to an antagonism that is experienced and in turn performed on a decidedly corporeal register.