Remembering otherwise: media memory, gender and Margaret Thatcher in Irish hunger strike films

Raita Merivirta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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This article analyses two films about the Irish republican prison protests and the hunger strikes of 1981–Terry George’s Some Mother’s Son (1996) and Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008)–as countermemories of the dominant British media coverage of the protests and the hunger strikes. Focusing on the use of the voice/image of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in these films, the article asks for what purpose and to what effect these clips and recordings are employed and suggests that Thatcher’s gender does matter in these films. In contrast to the worried mothers of the incarcerated republican sons, prime minister Thatcher appears as the unbending Iron Lady of the British government in Some Mother’s Son, representing the gendered chief villain of the film. In Hunger, Thatcher’s cold, disembodied female voice–Thatcher as acousmêtre–is set against the resisting and suffering male body of Bobby Sands. This article addresses these gendered depictions and their construction through the use of voice and silence. In both films, the female presence of Thatcher is used to invoke the old and create new media memories of the hunger strike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-297
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • film
  • hunger strike
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Northern Ireland
  • voice

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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