Invisible Agencies: Toxic Repercussions of Chernobyl and Bhopal


  • Pelin Kümbet Kocaeli University


This article delves into the fluidity of the toxic bodies drawing on Stacy Alaimo’s Bodily Natures (2010) with reference to the Bhopal industrial leak and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident in both of which tons of toxic chemicals and radioactivity leaked, causing extreme abnormalities in people’s bodies. Resting on this grim reality, these two events are poignant examples in terms of the embodiment of fluid, toxic bodies of people who are wryly exposed to a massive amount of life-threatening toxicity which has been incorporated underground systems, groundwater lines, springs, and soil. Recognizing how bodies interact with the flow of chemicals and toxicants, this article examines the penetration of environmental toxicity into the bodies of people, explores how fluid the bodies which are, being in constant interaction and contaminated by the substances. I argue that by eroding the boundaries between human and non-human agencies, these catastrophes provide a significant framework in making us realize pervasive toxicity in our lives. Stacy Alaimo calls this bond between bodies and the environment “trans-corporeality,” which “reconfigure[s] the human as a site of emergent material intra-actions inseparable from the very stuff of the rest of the world” (Bodily Natures p.156). Therefore, this article explores how human bodies who were exposed to two catastrophes are toxified through material forces, systems, drains and all underground agents as the boundaries between bodies and environment have become porous and permeable. In doing so, it scrutinizes how our lives, bodies, relationships, politics, and food have become enormously toxic with references to two texts, within the framework of “toxic discourse,” Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People (2007) and Svetlana Alexievich’s The Voices of Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (2006), which dramatize two catastrophes, Bhopal and Chernobyl respectively. The foreboding effects of these two disasters are still profoundly felt and experienced not just locally but globally, which should definitely make us reconsider our taken-for-granted conceptions regarding the more-than-human world.

KeyWords: Chernobyl, Bhopal, Toxicity, Stacy Alaimo, Trans-corporeality, Indra Sinha, Animal’s People (2007), Svetlana Alexievich, The Voices of Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (2006)


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How to Cite

Kümbet, P. (2021). Invisible Agencies: Toxic Repercussions of Chernobyl and Bhopal. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 8(15), 202–213. Retrieved from