Fasting as a Method
To Demand International Protection
For the People of Darfur, Sudan

June 5, 2005 (version 4) with a specific proposal and bibliography

"You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16)


Since the summer of 2004 at least four forms of political fasting have been used by anti-genocide activists trying to bring attention to the ongoing genocidal crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Fasting means the abstaining from food while taking water. These four are the open-ended individual fast, the mass participation fast, the tag-team fast and the group vigil fast. Soon additional forms of political fasting may be added to this list. In particular, prolonged fasting, a form of purposeful self-abnegation may soon be considered as a method for seeking redress for the continuing genocidal crisis in Darfur.

In the 2004-2005 academic year at least two student movements were active on US campuses - one concerned with genocide in Darfur and another older movement concerned with living wages for low-income university employees. Both movements have conducted political fasts as part of their campaigns. The movement for Darfur has grown rapidly in the past 12 months. Coordinated by STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur www.STANDarfur.org) this movement now has 80 chapters in 24 states and 6 Canadian provinces. Since last October a second manifestation of the student Darfur movement is the GIF (www.genocideinterventionfund.org) which now claims 118 participating schools, including universities, colleges and high schools. At the same time in the past two years the living wage movement has used group fasts lasting between 5 and 9 days on at least three university campuses. Though student activists are only a portion of the Darfur anti-genocide movement, it seems only a matter of time before the prolonged group fasts become a tool used by Darfur genocide student activists and by others.

Why has the tactic of political fasting become so widely used? Fasting confronts people with the dilemma of how to respond. In fasting in response to genocide the gravity of the response begins to suggest the magnitude of the crisis. Public fasting causes spectators to become witness to nearby suffering, reminding them of the far greater suffering occurring at a distance. Fasting has the power to rouse the onlookers from apathy to action.

The Appropriateness of Prolonged Fasting to Oppose Genocide in Darfur

There is a congruence between fasting (refraining from food) and the form of destruction currently most prevalent in Darfur. Since the Summer of 2004 most deaths in Darfur have been caused by starvation, rather than by direct violence. Up to the summer of 2004, most deaths in Darfur were in the form of immediate killing through direct violence. During the last year, however, the majority of deaths in Darfur have been caused by what Helen Fein calls: "Genocide by Attrition".

Genocide by Attrition is not a lesser form of killing, only less immediate. When the intent of the perpetrator is to destroy a group in whole or in part, the form of destruction is less significant than the intent and the deadly outcome. The 1948 Genocide Convention describes this form of destruction as "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part" (Article II c). In Darfur, this has been done be destroying water wells, livestock, food supplies, homes and driving people into the desert. Some commentators, see starving people and confuse a crime with a disaster or humanitarian emergency. The event in Darfur is not a catastrophe needing relief, but an ongoing crime which must be stopped.

The Appropriateness of Prolonged Fasting as a Response to Mass Atrocities and Genocide

The response that has the best chance to save the endangered people of Darfur, is the type of emergency response which we usually reserve for those situations that threaten us personally, or that threatens those who we experience as our "immediate family."  The peoples of Darfur, specifically the targeted Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa peoples collectively called by the racial epithet “Zurga” by their attackers, desperately need our help now.

While most of us are not closely biologically related to the people of Darfur, at this time of extreme crisis we must learn to cross this psychological/spiritual barrier and become “family” with them. Alfred Adler, the profoundly great psychologist said that the distinguishing mark of the healthy human being, of healthy humanity, is "courage - doing what needs to be done whether or not you know that you will succeed." In the future, when history looks at our efforts to stop this genocide in Darfur Sudan --  will it be said that our actions were at least commensurate with the  level of commitment shown by those persons perpetrating the crime?   For this reason, we must consider possible actions which we would not ordinarily consider undertaking.  Go directly to the final pages of this paper to read a specific proposal.

Four Forms of Political Fasting Already Used

These notes will examine these four forms of fasting for political objectives previously used by Darfur activists and compare them to four other forms of fasting, categorized according to factors such as participation, organization, duration and risk. The fasts are water-only, unless otherwise noted.

In more detail, and in the order in which they occurred, the four forms of fasting engaged in since July 2004 are:

1) An open-ended individual fast conducted by Washington radio host Joe Madison (WRC - 980AM) from July to September of 2004. See www.joemadison.com

2) Three mass participation fasts conducted across the USA and elsewhere on August 25, 2004 ("National Day of Conscience on Sudan"), March 16, 2005 ("Fast for Justice in Sudan") and "Fast Day for Darfur" held from “sun-up to sun-down” on May 26, 2005. The first two fasts were organized by DarfurGenocide.org (a project of Res Publica therespublica.org. Also see www.breakthings.com/RP/pointmapper/USA/strike/press.html) The third fast was organized by Jewish World Watch www.sswt.org/jewishworldwatch/

3) A 100-day tag-team fast (or rolling fast) from April 6, 2005 to July 14, 2005 honors the 100 day Rwandan genocide of 1994 while also drawing attention to and raising funds to stop genocide in Darfur. It is organized through the network www.stopgenocidenow.org and asks individual fasters sign-up to cover one of 100 days. See www.stopgenocidenow.org/sudan/fast/fastcalendar.htm.

4) A group vigil fast on April 27-28, 2005 for 24-hours outside the US State Department at the intersection of 22nd and C Streets, NW. Wash. DC. by members of Africa Action www.africaaction.org and students from the George Washington University (GWU) chapter of STAND.

Fasting as a Form of Nonviolent Action

In his book The Politics of Nonviolent Action (Boston, 1973), Gene Sharp described the fasting for political objectives as a "method of psychological intervention" involving "abstention from certain or all foods" and undertaken principally for political objectives but often also for reasons of health, religion, penance and self-purification.

While fasting may be conducted simply as a "form of moral protest", Sharp says that usually fasting is engaged in as a form of nonviolent intervention intended to bring about change on the part of those in power and within society as a whole. Sharp categorizes past fasts according to the intention of the fasters, placing historical examples in three categories. These categories are those 1) seeking to exert moral pressure to bring about change, 2) those making a set of demands and fasting in order to force or coerce authorities into making a change and 3) the Gandhian fast which seeks the to 'sting' the conscience of the powerful through voluntary suffering and thereby bring about a "change of heart" and a transformation of the political situation. The differences among these categories depends in part on the form of the fast, but also the manner in which the fasters present themselves to the general public and to those upon whom they are making a demand.

Eight Forms of Political Fasting Compared

The following list includes descriptions and examples of eight forms of fasting categorized according to participation, organization and clustered according to duration and risk. The clusters are: 1) Fasts of Moral Protest, 2) Prolonged Fasts and 3) High-Risk Political Fasting. Since last summer all forms of "Fast of Moral Protest" have been conducted by anti-genocide activists. It seems very possible that the second category of "Prolonged Fasts" will be conducted in the next months, especially since these forms have recently been used successfully in March and April 2005 in US student campaigns concerning other issues. The final category of "High-Risk Political Fasting" is very definitely not recommended, but is included here for the purpose of comparative analysis.

Fasts of Moral Protest (fasts of limited duration intended to raise awareness of a cause)

1. One-Day Mass Participation Fasts - fast participants usually fast for 24-hours and make a donation in the amount they might have spent on food in that time period or a larger donation.

2. Multi-Day Rotating Fasts (or rolling fast, or tag-team fast) to demonstrate solidarity. Participants sign up for a given day so the fast is continuous, but it by is conducted by many persons. This form of fasting may last for many weeks or months, but is of limited duration for individual participants.

3. Group Vigil/Fast where the people fast in a public location for a fixed period of time, often one day or one week in length or matching in length the duration of a specific event.

Prolonged or Open-ended Fasts (demanding action to redress  an urgent injustice): Prolonged fasters always need a strong network of support, including medical advisors. Examples include a fast by Gandhi that halted communal massacres in Calcutta in 1947, a fast in the Ukraine caused the Prime Minister to resign in 1990 and a little noted fast in the Kentucky State Legislature during the Civil Rights Movement in 1964.

4. Open-ended Public Fasting by Individuals (frequently by leaders or well-known persons) - A serious disadvantage of individual political fasting is the focus can shift away from purpose for the fast onto the subject of the health, weight loss, physical changes, judgment and well-being of the individual person who is fasting. Relationships between the person fasting and the support people can become strained and frayed. From the perspective of the faster, his or her closest friends and loved ones can become critics. From the perspective of the support people they can not do enough to match the commitment of the faster who is giving 200% to the cause. Some of examples of this form include Mahatma Gandhi on 17 occasions between 1918 and 1948, Lee D. Stern, Fellowship of Reconciliation staff member in Mar. 1965 (Anti-War, NYT 3/28/1965, p2.), Dick Gregory activist comedian in Nov. 1967 (Antiwar), Caesar Chevez for 25 days in Feb.1968 and 36 days in Aug. 1988 (Farm workers www.ufw.org, NYT 8/22/1988, p. A12, Peter Matthiessen, Sal Si Puedes, 1969), Mitch Snyder of the Community for Creative Nonviolence in Nov. 1984 (Homelessness), Andrés Thomas Conteris, in Aug. 2000 (Vieques Bombing Range, WP, 9/8/2000, p.B02). Both Gandhi and Chevez directed one or more of their fasts toward their followers in efforts to maintain discipline and nonviolence.

5. Prolonged Group Fasting - An important advantage of group fasting over individual fasting is that some fasters can drop out for health reasons, while the fast as a whole continues. Often conducted outdoors, the fast has the atmosphere of an extended vigil. Sometimes fasters remain in temporary shelters. Other times they return each day at the same time to a public location. During group fasts in small communities and university campuses where the fasters are known personally, the focus can sometimes shift away from purpose for the fast to well-being of the fasters (as mentioned above in #4). Fasts on university campuses which call upon the school administration to make changes, occur in the unique setting where the University also has a responsibility for the well-being of the students.

Examples of this form of fasting include the anti-Indochina War "Fast-For-Life” by 7 people, including Jews and Christians (two Priests) aged 21 to 41 at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, begun on Aug. 6, 1972 (NYT 9/9/1972, p.F12, WP 9/15/1972, p. 22); the "International Fast For Life" by Charles Grey, Dorothy Granada and others, begun in San Francisco on August 6, 1983 against the deployment of first-strike nuclear weapons. (NYT 9/14/1983. p. A8); the "Veterans Fast for Life in Central America" in Autumn of 1986 in which four veterans, Charles Liteky, 55, of San Francisco, CA; the late George Mizo, 40 (who was also a victim of Agent Orange), Brian Willson 49, of Chelsea, Vt., and Duncan Murphy, 66, (who participated in the liberation of Bergen Belson Concentration Camp in April 1945) of Sulphur Springs, Ark., who fasted for 46 days on the steps of the US Capitol (NYT 10/17/1986, p.A16, WP 9/25/1986, p. A2, 10/1/1986, A18, 10/17/1986, p.D1, 10/17/1986, pC6); in March 1992 in Nairobi's Uhuru Park 50 women, including Wangari Maathai and many mothers of political prisoners fasted for democratic rights in the months leading up to Kenya's first multiparty elections in Dec. 1992; in October 1995 Pema Dorjee and five other Tibetans, 5 men and 1 woman ages 23 to 42, fasted across the street from the United Nations in New York for 13 days to remind the world of three forgotten UN resolutions affirming the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination (NYT 10/25/1995, p.A27); in October 1990 student protesters in Kiev, Ukraine fasted for 15 days causing the dissolution of the Soviet Ukrainian parliament and the resignation of Prime Minister Vitaly Masol in an event since known as the “revolutsiia na hraniti" - revolution on the granite pavement (NYT 10/19/1990, p. 1). The largest number of participants in a political fast was by 6,000 students in Tiananmen Square from May 13 to 24, 1989, weeks before the bloody crackdown on June 4 (Nicholas D. Kristoff, NYT 5/23/1990, A12).

6. Group Hunger Strike/Sit-In - Combines two forms of nonviolent action: group fasting and the sit-in. The fast creates moral pressure for change, while the sit-in alters (or disrupts) the normal pattern of activities.

An early example of this occurred in March 1964 when 30 Civil Rights activists fasted in the gallery of the Kentucky House of Representatives for about 4 days demanding approval of public accommodation legislation. Led by 27-year-old Frank Stanley, Jr. the fasters were both black and white and between 16 and 71 years in age (NYT, 3/17/1964, p.25; 3/18/1964, p.20; 3/19/2004, p.14). The Kentucky fast apparently ended when the Legislature finished its session. Twenty-two months later in Jan. 1966 Kentucky passed state legislation broader in scope than the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act, which passed in the US House of Rep. on Feb. 10 (before the fast) and US Senate on July 2.

Internationally this tactic has been used in Spain by over 500 immigrants in 8 Barcelona churches in Jan. 2001; in Iran by student democracy activists in July 2003 at Isfahan, Allameh Tabatabaei and Ferdowsi Universities; in Saudi Arabia by 16 Filipino workers at the Embassy of the Philippines in Riyadh.  
In the United States, another recent major student movement paralleling the Darfur Student movement is the campus "Living Wage" movement by students seeking better pay for low-wage university employees. Using only the sit-in tactic, students at Harvard won a significant victory on this issue in May 2001. At Stanford University in May 2003 six students fasted for 7 days May-June 2003. In the Spring of 2005, students at Georgetown University and Washington University-St. Louis effectively conducted the Hunger Strike/Sit-Ins campaigns by 23 students from March 14 to 23 at Georgetown and from April 11 to April 16 at Washington U. (Harvard hcs.harvard.edu/~pslm/livingwage/ Stanford stanford.edu/group/slac/ Wash. U.: artsci.wustl.edu/~tjzander/ Georgetown: studentorgs.georgetown.edu/solidarity/lw/) Previous student campaigns used this tactic in April 1996 at Columbia University and April 1999 at University of Pittsburgh.

A man who engaged in a prolonged  fasting in the past makes the following observation about a social dynamic of prolonged fasting. "Paradoxically as the energy of the fasters diminishes, the intensity of attention from the media and the public increases. In this period the support people become gatekeepers, protecting the faster from the deluge of interest and becoming spokespeople on behalf of the faster or fasters.” This period usually begins about  20 to 25 days into the fast.

High-Risk Political Fasting (Usually this form of fasting is a final resort, when no other options are left):

7. Hunger Strike by Prisoners and Detainees - a tactic used by prisoners to remind those outside that they exist. It is engaged in especially by those who see themselves as political prisoners and illegal immigrants in detention. This form is often these are people with few or no other options left, sometimes people lock-down, solitary confinement or persons held without proper judicial proceedings.

This tactic had been used by detainees such as numerous suffragists, including Emmeline Pankhurst in the UK in 1913 and Alice Paul in the USA in 1917; Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli prisons fasted in August 2004; Human Rights activists in Castro's Cuba from the 1970s to the 1990s, most recently by Juan Emilio Aboy in April 2005. Also in Cuba, in the US Military Base at Guantanamo Bay, mass hunger strikes have been conducted by Haitians in 1993, Cubans in 1999 and terror suspects in 2002. Individual prisoners in desperate circumstances often engage in a range of self-harming behaviors up to and including suicide [See "Mass Guantanamo suicide protest," BBC 25 Jan 2005]. The tactic of the hunger strike, especially when engaged in by groups, is an alternative which provides greater dignity and solidarity. Sometimes family members and supporters on the outside fast in solidarity with imprisoned hunger strikers.
Since April 17, 2005, former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune (b. 1946) has been fasting in a Haitian prison to protest his detention. Neptune, who served as Prime Minister from March 15, 2002 to March 12, 2004 was arrested in June 2004 in connection with an alleged massacre of 50 people in Scierie, a suburb of St. Marc, on February 11, 2004. Neptune visited the city two days before the alleged massacre, giving instructions to reestablish order in the city. He was held for months without a hearing, and wants to be released unconditionally. The new regime, which has not disclosed any evidence against him, has offered to drop charges if he leaves Haiti. He refused this offer. On May 18 Florida congressman Rep. Kendrick Meek visited him and reported he is in poor health, but not near death, as some reports have claimed. See also "Hungering for Justice" Baltimore Sun 5/29/2005.

8. Fasts unto death - Not a of method of nonviolence, but instead a form of suicidal martyrdom, especially if fluid as well as food is refused. In effect this is the slow-motion equivalent of self-immolation.

One of the best known examples is that of IRA-member Bobby Sands in who died on May 5, 1981 after a 66 day hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Six other men and three women also died in this hunger strike. Three of the striking men, were elected to public office on Apr. 10 during the hunger strike. Irish Republicans who previously died from fasting includes Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, who died after 73 days in 1920 and IRA members Michael Gaughan in 1974 and Frank Stagg in 1976. Cuban political prisoner Pedro Luis Boitel, who opposed both Batista and Castro, died after a 53 day fast in 1972. In Sri Lanka, fasts unto death include LTTE leader Thileepan in 1987 and Mrs. Kanapathipillai Poopathy in 1988. It is important to note however, that sometimes imprisoned fasters, especially the most isolated, experience death not from starvation, but from beatings - such as the Dec. 8, 1986 death of dissident Anatoly T. Marchenko in Chistopol prison in the Soviet Union (NYT 12/19/1986, p.A39). More recently, 12 Kurdish prisoners died in a 1996 hunger strike for more humane conditions in Turkish prisons.

"Fasts unto death" can be compared to suicide under protest, an action which has been taken on several occasions in response to genocide. On May 12, 1943, Polish Jewish political leader Szmul Zygielbojm, 48, committed suicide after nearly a year of unsuccessful efforts to bring attention to the Nazi extermination of Jews, including his own family. He wrote,” By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people" (NYT Jun 4, 1943. pg. 7). On May 29, 1969, during the Nigerian Civil War, Bruce Mayrock, 20, a student at Columbia University, immolated himself on the grounds of the United Nations near the swords into plowshares statue. His sign read "You must stop genocide - please save 9 million Biafrans" (NYT 5/30/1969, p. 1). On April 29, 1993 Graham Bamford, 48, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, immolated himself in London's Parliament Square as the House of Commons continued to debate a response to massacres and "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia.
Two of the most famous acts of suicide under protest occurred within the countries where massacres had recently been committed. The elderly Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc immolated himself on June 11, 1963 in Saigon to protest the May 8 massacre in Hue of one Buddhist woman and eight children killed by South Vietnamese police during the celebration of Buddha's birthday (NYT 5/22/1963, p. 3, 5/29/1963, p. 5). On Jan. 16, 1969 Jan Palach, 19, a student at Charles University in Prague, immolated himself in Wenceslas Square to protest the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact, that began on August 21, 1968 in a "crackdown" in which over 70 Czechs were killed. Over two dozen other Buddhists followed the example of Thich Quang Duc over the next 4 years. Palach's act inspired 7 others to follow him in the next 3 months. Palach's death is commemorated annually and his face appeared on a postage stamp.

The actions described in items #7 and #8 above are most strongly discouraged, though the circumstances that led people to take these actions can be appreciated. They are included here only for comparative purposes.  Prolonged fasting is an act of purposeful self-abnegation, not an act of self-destruction as described in items #7 and #8.

The above comparative analysis has been created in order to provide some perspective to persons considering future fasts in opposition to genocide in Darfur. This paper was written to present the items #5 and #6 as possible forms for future action. No one should engage in extended fasts of any duration without medical advice, prior experience with short-term fasting, a careful examination of their personal motives and a study of the experiences of past fasting campaigns.

A Scenario for Political Fasting for Darfur in the late Summer of 2005:
a "Fast for International Protection in Darfur"

The proposed "Fast for International Protection in Darfur" in the United States would include two fasts, a one-day mass participation fast, followed one week later by a prolonged group fast. The organization of similar fasts would be encouraged in other countries.

This scenario takes the anniversaries of three events in 2004 to determine the timing of events in 2005. These three events are 1) the July 22, 2004 Concurrent Resolutions in the House of Representatives (Con Res. 467) and Senate (Con Res. 133), 2) the July 30, 2004 Security Council Resolution 1556 that set a 30-day period for compliance by Sudan but ultimately resulted in no substantive actions, and 3) the September 9, 2004 statements by both then Secretary of State Colin Powell and President George W. Bush finding that genocide was occurring in Darfur. These statements and actions in 2004, were signs of leadership at the time they were made. Viewed from the vantage point of history, however, these acts must be judged as empty pronouncements, unless they are followed soon by some substantive action. This fast would be a demand that political leaders take the necessary action sufficient to end the killing.  The people of Darfur need protection, not relief.

The one-day mass participation fast would be held on Friday, July 22, 2005 in which concerned Americans would fast in remorse and penitence for the failure of their elected officials in Congress to follow up their declaration of genocide in Sudan with substantive action. Fasters would visit House and Senate offices in Washington or the District Offices at locations throughout the United States, delivering by hand or by mail letters explaining the reasons they are fasting to protest inaction over Darfur.

The prolonged group fast would begin following week on Saturday, July 30, 2005. Groups of fasters would assemble at a public locations each day at the same time in the late afternoon and early evening. The first group of fasters starting July 30th would be joined by additional fasters on Monday, August 15 and Thursday, September 1. The 42nd day of the fast would be Friday, September 9, 2005 the anniversary of statements by Secretary Powell and President Bush in 2004.

Previous fasts of this kind, such as the 46-day long "Veterans Fast for Life in Central America" held in September and October 1986 resulted in over "300 documented solidarity activities" occurring all over the United States (NYT 10/17/1986, p.A16). The success of a similar open-ended fast held in 2005 to demand "International Protection in Darfur" would depend do a great extent on the manner in which it was conducted and the discipline and organization of the fasters and their support people. These proposed fasts for Darfur would be only one small part of a much larger campaign by many organizations which have already been addressing genocide in Darfur for over a year or much longer. A "Fast for International Protection in Darfur" would be merely one part in this much larger effort, which would continue after the fast was over.

Fasting is a method of nonviolent action capable of generating extraordinary power when undertaken in the right situation by a strong, organized and committed group of activists. A continuing, sustained fast has the potential to create an extremely authentic community characterized by calm and disciplined determination. Whether from direct encounter or at a distance via the media, onlookers and newcomers often feel drawn to join with or support such an effort.  Forms of nonviolent action of shorter duration and commitment are sometimes dismissed as publicity seeking efforts. In contrast, prolonged fasting involves people putting their very lives and bodies on the line in the effort to seek action to stop an injustice.

A Personal Note

For me, as author of this paper, if I view the prospect of prolonged fasting from the perspective of ordinary daily life the notion of refraining from food for a many days on end seems incredible, unreasonable, absurd or even grotesque. When I view the prospect of prolonged fasting from the perspective of the victims, however, an extraordinary response to a massive, continuing crime seems very appropriate, even an imperative.

If I think of the prospect of my family, friends and loved ones becoming the possible victims of a genocidal attack – what would I want bystanders around the world to do in response?

I would want them to do everything in their power to make the perpetrators cease their attack as rapidly as possible. Prolonged fasting is one of many possible strong actions that can contribute to an end to this crime-in-progress. We must consider it and other parallel actions if we are to generate the sufficient political will in our society for our leaders to act to halt ongoing genocide.

Why fast to oppose genocide and mass atrocities?

A decision to undertake such a long-term fasting would require careful planning and discernment, both on the part of individual fasters with respect to their own participation and on the part of the group as a whole. Gandhi advised his followers to undertake prolonged fasts only as a last resort, when other course of action had been tried without success. A question for Darfur anti-genocide activists is: Have we reached that point? Or: What should we do if we reach that point?

Genocide is a crime of enormous magnitude. When genocide is occurring normal life is not possible. Fasting, in any of the forms described above, focuses attention on the fact that people are suffering and dying. Fasting expresses the idea that life in the presence of mass killing cannot go on as usual.

_ _ _

Thank you to Sam Totten, Jay McGinley and others for suggestions and comments on  this topic and this  text.


Stevo Brooks, John Burkhart, Charles Grey and Dorothy Granada, A Guide to Political Fasting (Nonviolent Tactics Development Project, 1981), 57 pp.

This long pamphlet includes examples of past political fasts, a section on how to organize a political fast, and practical information on beginning, maintaining and ending fasts. Includes a useful bibliography on fasting.

M. K. Gandhi, Fasting in Satyagraha, its use and abuse, Compiled by R.K. Prabhu and Ravindra Kelekar. (Ahmedabad, Navajivan Publishing House, 1965), 77 pp.

For some of Gandhi’s writings on fasting, see : www.gandhiinstitute.org/Library/LibraryItem.cfm?LibraryID=762

Amelia Kritzer, Fasting. (Haverford, Pa., Nonviolent Action Research Project, Haverford College, 1973)

Sharman Apt. Russell, Hunger : an unnatural history (New York : Basic Books, 2005). 288pp [To be published in the fall of 2005]

Voluntary hunger has always been a powerful spiritual and political statement, used by the fasting saints of earlier centuries and by modern-day activists like Mahatma Gandhi. Chapter 6 of the book addresses 'The Hunger Strike' with sections on Hunger and communicating, the heyday of hunger strikes, the English suffragettes revive an old tradition force-feeding, Mahatma Gandhi, ten Irish Republicans show the body dies from starvation and medical ethics in a hunger strike. Although Russell highlights cases where hunger can inspire and even heal, she also addresses involuntary hunger and its devastating impact on the human body and spirit. World War II prompted some of our most extensive research in this field, and Hunger recounts the extraordinary hunger disease studies done by Jewish doctors in the Warsaw Ghetto, The Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944, and the seminal Minnesota Experiment in the late 1940s. She traces the work of anthropologists exploring the effect of chronic hunger on culture and of doctors learning the best ways to re-feed famine victims and treat child malnutrition. She concludes with the recent plan by a United Nations Task Force to halve world hunger by 2015. See Western New Mexico University www.wnmu.edu/academic/hum/russels.htm


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