We are flames not flowers-: a gendered reading of the social movement for justice in Bhopal
Team, Bhopal Research
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Scandrett, E., Mukherjee, S. & Team, B. (2011-11) We are flames not flowers-: a gendered reading of the social movement for justice in Bhopal, Interface: a journal for and about social movements, vol. 3, pp. 100-122.
This essay is in continuation of the article that Eurig Scandrett and I wrote for the previous issue of Interface (Scandrett and Mukherjee 2011). It looks at gender as one of the abstractions that arises from the material condition of the industrial disaster in Bhopal that happened on 3 December 1984, which is often compared to Hiroshima, in the nature of its destruction. Bhopal has also witnessed a grassroots movement, remarkable in its tenacity and its welldefined battle-line against the monolithic power of the State and the Corporation. The survivors' organisations present two interrelated profiles for the movement. One is local and includes a large section of women, who are illiterate and bound by patriarchy. The other is the international face of the movement. This essay looks at the role played by women in the movement. At the same time, oral history methodology highlights the vision of a gender sensitive world, which is alien to the material conditions these women live in. While academically we can bring in feminist readings, they do not serve the purpose of relating to women's consciousness and how they visualize their own emancipation. This essay looks at gender as a problematic category that needs redefinition.