Curating a Bhopal People’s Movement: An Opportunity for Indian Museums



Abstract  This article explores the curatorial opportunities and challenges that emerge from an exhibition project in the central Indian city of Bhopal, the site of one of the world’s worst industrial tragedies in 1984, involving the Union Carbide pesticide factory. The government wants to build a memorial at the site, but some survivor groups say the government does not have the moral right to memorialize because it is complicit in the injustice meted out to the community. The survivors are now developing their own traveling exhibition, which they hope will eventually be a permanent museum in the city. They have enlisted me for the project because I advocate for contemporary social histories and people’s movements in Indian museums. The traveling exhibition has the potential to help guide India’s museums—which are locked in patterns of patriotic cultural showcasing—to confront troubling social discourses for the first time.