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NUCLEARWATERS Seminar: Ecological entanglements, nuclear ruptures, and the affective intimacies of Bishnoi resistance

The Nuclearwaters project is hosting the third seminar in its Nuclearwaters Seminar Series this term. This time we have the pleasure of welcoming Sonali Huria, who is going to be speaking about the relationship of the Bishnoi community with water in nuclear India.

Time: Fri 2022-04-08 13.15 – 15.00

Video link:

Language: English

Lecturer: Sonali Huria, associated scholar, Science, Technology and Gender Studies, FAU, Erlangen-Nürnberg

Ecological entanglements, nuclear ruptures, and the affective intimacies of Bishnoi resistance

For the Bishnoi, among the earliest eco-conservationist communities in the Indian subcontinent, encounters with the atom have been encounters of colossal ruptures. Their histories, geographies, religious intimacies, and more-than-human worlds have collided with India’s nuclear trajectories at two distinct sites – first, in the arid deserts of Pokharan, Rajasthan where India conducted its atomic tests, forcing the Bishnoi into the ranks of the Global Hibakusha (Jacobs 2022), and, more recently, in Fatehabad, Haryana where the Indian government is setting up a massive 2,800MWe nuclear plant comprising four ‘indigenous’ CANDU-type Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors of 700 MWe each.

While to the Bishnoi, water represents a vital element in the multispecies assemblage in which the human, nonhuman, and the divine all come together in an entangled relational ecology of reverence, kinship, nurturing, ethics, and reciprocity, the proposed nuclear plant, to be set up over the Fatehabad branch of the Bhakra Canal, the lifeline of this predominantly agricultural region, threatens to usurp and drain away its dense material embeddedness within the Bishnoi ecology.

This presentation will seek to tease out such multiple layers of material embeddedness of water within Bishnoi lifeworlds, in the contestation between the Indian state, besotted with the nuclear age, and the intimacies of ecological subjects committed to protecting their sacred material worlds, and, to bring these entangled flows from the nuclearized Bishnoi heartland to the Nuclear Waters seminar. (Visit the Nuclear Waters project page)


Jacobs, Robert A. (2022). Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha. Yale University Press

Dr Sonali Huria is the 2020-21 Fellow, Takagi Fund for Citizen Science, Japan and an associated scholar, Science, Technology and Gender Studies, FAU, Erlangen-Nürnberg. She has worked for over a decade in the field of human rights research, teaching, advocacy, and investigation at India’s National Human Rights Commission, and completed her PhD in 2020 from Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. Her doctoral research involved an exploration of the encounters of grassroots movements in India with the technopolitical trajectories of and imaginaries surrounding India’s nuclear modernity, and the brutalities unleashed by the postcolonial nuclear obsessions of the world’s largest democracy. She has written extensively on the political, social, environmental, and human rights concerns surrounding India’s nuclear sector for news portals, magazines, and newspapers in South Asia and beyond. She also co-edits, a popular resource space on nuclear disarmament and nuclear energy issues.