Pesticide, Politics and a Paradise Lost: Toxicity, Slow Violence and Survival Environmentalism in Ambikasutan Mangad’s "Swarga"
Keywords:Pesticide, disaster, slow violence, Uncanny, survival environmentalism
Ambikasutan Mangad’s Enmakaje (translated into English as Swarga by J. Devika) is a dystopic tale of socio-environmental crisis that represents the actual event of endosulfan disaster in the Indian state of Kerala in literary imagination. This paper examines how Mangad’s text represents the “slow violence” the endosulfan disaster unleashes, in encrypted and incremental ways, upon the environs, bodies and psyches of the victims. It looks into how the politics of denial tries to suppress the inconvenient truth about the invisible invasion of the foreign element in an area where the local people live in reciprocity with their immediate environment. The paper also dissects how Mangad’s use of the images of deformed human bodies with congenital anomalies in rendering the amorphous threats visible brings the environmental and disability concerns together and how these contravened and disabled bodies mark the uncanny nature of the disaster. Finally, it focuses on how the poor victims put up a collective protest in the form of an ecopopulist movement against the pesticide lobby and how their resistance to the socio-environmental injustice substantiates the fact that in a postcolonial country like India environmental issues are integrally connected to the issues of sustenance, shelter and survival of the “ecosystem people”.
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