Essay by Nabil Ahmed in Third Text, volume 27, 2013
Issue “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology,” edited by T.J. Demos
The 1970 Bhola Cyclone in Bengal remains a paramount example of the entanglement between ecological violence and history of the state. This article claims the cyclone as an actor in the national liberation of Bangladesh. Continuing with the idea that nature has voice in political ecology, the aim of the article is to examine environmental activist practices in Bangladesh. Fields examined include cyclone shelters, the shipbreaking industry of Chittagong, where the object of capture is iron, and the deep sea gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal contested by India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, where the space of cyclone doubles as a resource for global capital. By recognizing the entanglement of objects such as cyclone, iron and gas in environmental activist practices the article attempts to bring the agency of nature to humanitarianism-led environmental politics in Bangladesh, and to a renewed political ecology of the global south.