Reframing Disaster, 26 November- 7 December, Leeds

Reframing Disaster, 26 November- 7 December, Leeds

As a part of the ‘Representing Postcolonial Disaster’ research project, Leeds University will be hosting a number of interesting events examining the representation of various disasters commemorating significant anniversaries this year- including the Bhopal Disaster.

Amongst these will be an exhibition of Raghu Rai’s famous Bhopal work, which will be shown at the Tetley Gallery, along with other events- including a two-day conference on the 28th- 29th November, a special event in partnership with the University of Leeds including dance, talks, readings and interviews.

Reframing Disaster- Raghu Rai photo Exhibition

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(c) Raghu Rai/ Greenpeace 2002

Post-colonial Disaster Conference

“2014 is a significant year for commemorating and thinking through the legacies of major global catastrophes. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster in India, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, and the 10th anniversary of the South Asian tsunami. While much attention is being paid to the centenary of World War I, we would like to counterpoint this by considering the politics of remembering, commemorating, and supporting long-term recovery in relation to a range of compound catastrophes that have deep colonial roots. Given that Bhopal, Rwanda, and the Tsunami have all generated significant media interest alongside diverse forms of creative response (from art to social activism), this conference will explore how these and other postcolonial disasters have been defined and represented following the initial event. It will examine the particular challenges posed by different forms of disaster (industrial, environmental, social), and connect these with aid and reconstruction work across multiple sectors.

“The conference is connected to an AHRC-funded research project led by Dr Anthony Carrigan, entitled ‘Representing Postcolonial Disaster’, and will be part of a week-long series of activities designed to coincide directly with the Bhopal disaster’s 30th anniversary on 2–3 December, and with the South Asian tsunami’s 10th anniversary later that month. The overall event has been planned in collaboration with the Bhopal Medical Appeal and local community groups, and will be inclusive and public-facing, with film screenings, school workshops, and exhibitions being staged throughout the week with the core aim of stimulating public visibility and discussion. It will include an exhibition by world-renowned Indian photographer Raghu Rai (the first photographer to document the Bhopal disaster), to be held at the Tetley Gallery (http://thetetley.org/), along with contributions from writers, artists, filmmakers, publishers, and charity representatives who have worked to publicise and support recovery efforts in relation to these disasters.

“The conference will be self-consciously public-facing,  speaking across diverse sectors and audiences, featuring presentations from a range of disciplines and stakeholders with a particular focus on: issues of political and artistic representation (including novels, poetry, films, popular culture, and visual art); colonialism and disaster; the politics of remembering, commemorating, and forgetting; the geopolitics of aid; and social activism and remediation. Possible topics include:

  • Historical and contemporary responses to postcolonial disasters in art and media;
  • The challenges of recovery, reconstruction, remediation, and justice;
  • Local, ethnographic, and diasporic perspectives on disasters;
  • Bhopal, Rwanda, and the South Asian Tsunami in comparative frame, including relationships with other forms of postcolonial disaster;
  • Charity and humanitarian perspectives and critiques;
  • State responsibilities and global justice campaigns;
  • Defining postcolonial disaster, including complex emergencies, chronic catastrophes (e.g. underdevelopment and systemic poverty), and slow violence.”

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.