This article examines Indra Sinha’s novel Animal’s People, an engagement with the consequences of the 1984 toxic chemical spill in Bhopal, India, in order to critique the humanist discourse of Dow Chemical’s massive rebranding effort, “The Human Element,” that began in 2006. The novel’s narrator, when his spine is twisted forward by the chemical toxins, adopts the name “Animal.” In contesting Western definitions of what constitutes a human, he helps to reimagine postcolonial activism by broadening its coalition to include nonhuman subjects. Sinha’s version of postcolonial environmentalism, this article thus suggests, searches out the possibilities and limitations of a posthuman postcolonialism.
“A Nother World” In Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People
Justin Omar Johnston is assistant professor of English at SUNY Stony Brook. His research focuses on contemporary anglophone and postcolonial literature, especially on how it formulates the category of the (post)human. His book project, The Prosthetic Novel, examines how cyborgs, clones, animal-human hybrids, toxic bodies, and other technological bodies—bodies weighted down by the history of twentieth-century biopolitics, even as they anticipate still emergent forms of subjectivity—have proliferated across a variety of internationally acclaimed literary texts during the last decade.