Earthly Poison, Arsenic and the Bengal Delta

23 – 24 May 2013

Friday 23 May 2013 at Cockpit Theatre, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH

Saturday 24 May 2013 at Goldsmiths College, RHB 312, 8 Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW

1972 . Bangladesh was a new state emerging out of a national liberation war and a cyclone. Inspired by the Green Revolution, UNICEF undertook a major public health engineering project, drilling millions of hand pumps aimed at providing safe drinking water, and over subsequent years sinking private tube wells became normative practice. Although considered a major humanitarian success, it exposed a significant part of the population to ground water aquifers rich in arsenic.

Several decades on, the slow environmental violence continues to unfold at a population level in both Bangladesh and West Bengal. The same state and humanitarian players implicated in its complex causality are now charged with the responsibility of dealing with its consequences. An earthly poison unleashed with a violent forensic history.

The two-day seminar brings together leading STS scholars, lawyers, geologists, historians and philosophers. It aims to address contemporary debates around large-scale arsenic poisoning in the Bengal delta, and its implications for new forms of spatial activism and law in the global South.

The two-day seminar is organised by Nabil Ahmed and the Centre for Research Architecture/Forensic Architecture, in collaboration with The Showroom.

Seminar Schedule:

Friday, May 24th, at The Cockpit Theatre
10.30–11am: Nabil Ahmed (Centre for Research Architecture)
11.00–12.30pm: Andrew Meharg (Queen’s University Belfast), Godofredo Pereira (Centre for Research Architecture)
12.30–1.30pm: Lunch
1.30–3pm: Howard Caygill (Kingston University), James Burton (Bochum University)
3–4pm: Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University), Eyal Weizman (Centre for Research Architecture), Susan Schuppli (Forensic Architecture)
5–6pm: Screening of Nabil Ahmed films, Studio 1

Saturday, May 25th,at Goldsmiths College (RHB 312)
10.30–11am: Coffee
11am–1.30pm: John McArthur (University College London), Peter Atkins (Durham University), Shubhaa Srinivasan (Leigh Day)
1.30–2.30pm: Lunch
2.30–3pm: Screening
3–4pm: Closing session


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