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Iryna Skubii (PhD Candidate) publishes article in the Journal of Contemporary History

Iryna Skubii (PhD Candidate) has published “Food Waste and Survival in Times of the Soviet Famines in Ukraine” in the Journal of Contemporary History (July 2023).

This article focuses on the interconnections and interrelations between food, waste, people and state during a series of survival crises in the famines of 1921–3, 1932–3 and 1946–7 in Soviet Ukraine. Owing to grain and food requisitions, the collectivization of agriculture and rationing as part of the state's growing control over the flow of economic resources from the 1920s to the 1940s, discarded food acquired particular importance for people's survival during these times of extremes. Focusing on both individual and institutional levels of waste production and regulation, this study explores the role of food waste in the survival practices of the starving and traces the development of their individual resourcefulness and interconnectedness with wider social and natural environments. The article explores different types of food waste, including husks, leftover food, carrion and spoiled and rotten food and the spaces of its collection. By ‘following’ the traces of waste in urban and rural landscapes, including, among others, dumpsters, slaughterhouses, cattle cemeteries and railway stations, the article brings into focus the critical changes in human–food, human–waste and human–nature relationships in times of extremes.

Iryna is completing her dissertation under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Manley. Her dissertation explores consumption as a survival practice in the midst of the famines and wars during the first half of the twentieth century in Ukrainian lands. Her research aims to recast the history of this period and famines in particular through the prism of things and person-things relationships, as well as it will allow rethinking of the meanings of food, things, and natural resources during extraordinary periods. 

Congratulations, Iryna!


Department of History, Queen's University

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Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.