skip to primary navigationskip to content

Kerry Mackereth

Ms Kerry Mackereth 2019Gates Cambridge International Scholarship

Hunger For Freedom: Female Hunger Strikers in the British Suffragette Movement (1909-1914) and Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre (2018)

Supervisor: Dr Harald Wydra (Department of Politics and International Studies)





Existing approaches to hunger striking assume that the suffering body is able to communicate political injustice to an external audience, but ignore how gender and race shape how the suffering body communicates. Through two female-led hunger strikes in the British context – the hunger strikes undertaken by the British suffragettes between 1909-1914, and the 2018 hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre – I interrogate the premise of the ‘speaking’ body. I show how gendered and racialised relations of power restrict female hunger strikers’ access to the languages deployed by male hunger strikers, such as strategic self-harm or heroic self-sacrifice. Rather than being a form of political speech, I argue that women's hunger strikes are an embodied critique of state violence that gesture towards alternative modes of political relationality and new ways of engaging with the concept of the human.

Academic Background:

Bachelor of Arts (First Class) in Human, Social and Political Sciences at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

MPhil (Distinction) in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge


Mackereth, K. (forthcoming) “mechanical maids and family androids: racialised post-care imaginaries in Humans (2015-), Sleep Dealer (2008) and Her (2013)” Feminist Review, Special Issue on Digital Labour.

Research Interests:

Feminist and gender theory; critical race theory; embodiment; political violence; hunger; science fiction; the political imagination.