Skip to main content

Hungry for justice: Bobby Sands, the 1981 hunger strikers, and Gerry Adams

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
The propagandization of martyrdom and political ideologies by extremist organizations is often explored in the context of criminology and terrorism studies with special focus paid to Islamist—and, in rare circumstances, right-wing—extremism. There is astonishingly little research on the role of Western ethnonationalist and leftist movements in using and abusing the martyrs they generate. This thesis utilizes two different approaches to conduct an instrumental case study on the iconography of 1981 Provisional IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands: (1) A thematic content analysis of Irish republican extremist newsletter, An Phoblacht, and (2) semi-structured interviews with former IRA and INLA members. Comparing these accounts points to evidence of how an aligned political organization (Sinn Féin) appropriated Sands, his ideology, and his comrades in the process of transitioning towards and maintaining peace in Northern Ireland. This thesis challenges the dominant narrative of the 1981 H-Blocks hunger strike, concluding that the image of Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger strikers remains under the control of Gerry Adams and other members of Sinn Féin despite inappropriately utilizing their deaths to build political capital, thereby generating an ongoing feud oft overlooked in North American studies into the Troubles.
133 pages.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Palys, Ted
Member of collection
Download file Size
etd22219.pdf 1.68 MB

Views & downloads - as of June 2023

Views: 181
Downloads: 8