"People of the Apokalis": Spatial Disability and the Bhopal Disaster

Jina Kim


This paper considers Indra Sinha's Animal's People (2007), a fictional re-telling of the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster, as a productive site of mutual engagement between postcolonial studies and disability studies, two fields rarely in dialogue.  Dominant models of disability, I argue, do not translate to formerly colonial sites and/or sites that bear the burden of global capitalism.  The uneven processes of globalization—which produce disabling environments—necessitate that we revise established conceptions of disability, which are derived largely from US/UK contexts.  I explore a socio-spatial model that emphasizes the necessity of specific locational axes in figurations of disability.  This enables more flexible understandings of embodiment, which may shift and be shifted by the particularities of space.  A victim of the disaster, Animal--the novel's protagonist--navigates Bhopal’s streets on all fours.  His unique spatial imaginary, contingent on his particular form of embodiment, produces a local and embodied knowledge that foregrounds points of convergence between anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, and disability politics.


Keywords: postcolonialism, globalization, Bhopal India, Union Carbide, neoliberalism, transnational, contemporary English literature, industrial disaster, environmental studies


postcolonialism; globalization; Bhopal; India; Union Carbide; neoliberalism; transnational; contemporary English literature; industrial disaster; environmental studies

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v34i3.3795

Copyright (c) 2014 Jina Kim

Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

Beginning with Volume 36, Issue No. 4 (2016), Disability Studies Quarterly is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license unless otherwise indicated. 

Disability Studies Quarterly is published by The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with the Society for Disability Studies.

If you encounter problems with the site or have comments to offer, including any access difficulty due to incompatibility with adaptive technology, please contact libkbhelp@lists.osu.edu.

ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)