Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Joe Pellegrino

Committee Member 1

Dustin Anderson

Committee Member 2

Howard Keeley


Even the most comprehensive famine accounts rely primarily on large-scale demographic and statistical data, such as census reports and birth and death statistics, creating a “bird’s eye view” of areas plagued with famine and of the perpetrators. Famine literature, if available, allows for a much closer examination at the grass-roots level, providing individual characters or communities as “evidence” for the study of famine. I argue that, by utilizing the literature, we can shift the perspective away from national and international actors and onto individuals, opening up multiple layers of analysis outside of the standard colonizer/colonized approach of analyzing colonial famines. William Carleton’s The Black Prophet and Bhabani Bhattacharya’s So Many Hungers are perfect subjects for this type of analysis. These novels show us the important role that the community and interpersonal relationships, both social and economic, have during a famine. In particular, I focus on the role of the “comprador” figure in these texts, a member of the native middle class that acts as an indirect agent of the British government by mirroring their state-level actions against the colonized at a community level. To exert their power, the comprador class utilizes biopolitics, wielding the power of food and shelter over their fellow countrymen in a strikingly similar fashion as the British Government.