Climate Justice in India

Today’s escalating climate chaos is intensified by global threats to democracy, violent backlashes to migration, and horrific biodiversity loss. Furthermore, environmental degradation is exacerbating existing inequalities, with poor and marginalized people bearing the brunt of crises they had virtually no hand in creating. Mainstream climate discourse often sees the most impacted people as disposable, or as victims to be saved by top-down interventions that maintain the same order that gave rise to the catastrophe. But truly useful engagement with the climate crisis must involve not only technology, but also alternate visions of social and economic arrangements, and different ways of thinking about the interrelationships of humans with the broader natural world.These fresh perspectives are likely to come from the marginalized and oppressed. Indigenous people, despite being only 5% of the world’s population, protect 80% of its biodiversity, and have a long history of living with other species without destroying them. The “most vulnerable” often exhibit a remarkable capacity to survive, as well as creativity and adaptability under difficult conditions and scarce resources.

This project will look to people at the margins of the current global order, creating speculative fiction and nonfiction that imagines actionable, inspiring, bottom-up solutions and adaptations in the face of a world dangerously in flux. We will focus on India—a geographically and culturally diverse and severely climate-stressed nation which is also among the most densely populated regions in the world, and ranks high on measures of social and economic inequality.

We will publish a free ebook, with an accompanying print edition, featuring speculative fiction stories by five authors from a diverse range of backgrounds within India and in the global diaspora—plus a number of short essays, manifestos, and works of creative nonfiction. Our fiction authors will craft their visions of the future in collaboration with scholars and activists, grounding their work in the latest thinking about technology, politics, sociology, philosophy, culture, legal theory, and more.

Project Leads

Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay is senior researcher at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. He is the founding series editor (with Taryne Taylor) of Routledge Studies in Global Genre Fiction, editor-in-chief of Fafnir: Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, and editor at the Journal of Science Fiction. He is the editor of the book Indian Genre Fiction: Pasts and Future Histories.

Joey Eschrich is the editor and program manager at the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, and assistant director for Future Tense, a partnership of ASU, Slate magazine, and New America on emerging technologies, culture, and society. He has edited several books of science fiction and nonfiction, including Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities, which was funded by a grant from NASA.

Vandana Singh is a professor of physics at Framingham State University, a transdisciplinary scholar of climate change, and a science fiction author. Her short story collection Ambiguity Machines, from Small Beer Press and Zubaan Books, was No. 1 on Publisher’s Weekly’s Top Ten in Science Fiction, was named a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and earned praise from Wired, the Washington Post, and the Seattle Times.

Fiction Authors

Gladson Dungdung is an activist, author, researcher, public speaker, and motivator. He is founder of the Adivasis Publications. He comes from the Kharia Adivasi community in Jharkhand (India). He has authored several books, including Endless Cry in the Red Corridor, Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India, and Whose Country Is It Anyway? – Untold Stories from India’s Indigenous Peoples. He has also published more than 500 articles and spoken globally on indigenous issues. He received the Samata Ratan Award in 2014 for his extraordinary work for the Adivasi communities of India.

Meena Kandasamy has actively sought to combine her love for the written word with the struggle for social justice through poetry, translation, fiction, and essays for the last fifteen years. Her debut collection of poems, Touch, is themed around caste and untouchability, and her second, Ms Militancy, is a feminist retelling of Tamil and Hindu myths. Her first (anti)novel is The Gypsy Goddess, about the 1968 massacre of untouchable people in Kilvenmani, Tanjore. When I Hit You: Or, The Portrait of the Writer As A Young Wife, a work of auto-fiction, was selected as book of the year by The Guardian, The Observer, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times.

Jacinta Kerketta is a poet, writer, and freelance journalist. In her poems, she highlights the injustices committed against Adivasi communities, along with their struggles. Her poems are also important cultural and artistic documents of Adivasi worldviews. She is the author of two bilingual (Hindi and English) full-length collections of poems: Angor (Adivani, Kolkata) and Jodon Ki Jameen (Bharatiya Jnanpith, New Delhi).

Easterine Kire is a poet, short story writer, children’s book writer, and novelist from Nagaland. She has been awarded, among others, the Hindu Literature Prize for 2015, as well as the Tata Litlive Book of the Year and the Bal Sahitya Puraskar in 2018 for her works. Her books have been translated into Norwegian, German, and Marathi.

Mimi Mondal is a speculative fiction writer and editor, and the first Hugo Award nominee from India. Her first book, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited along with Alexandra Pierce, received the Locus Award in Non-fiction in 2018 and was a finalist for the Hugo Award in Best Related Work and the British Fantasy Award in Non-fiction. Between 2017 and 2018, Mimi worked as the Poetry and Reprint Editor of Uncanny Magazine, a three-times-Hugo-Award-winning magazine of science fiction and fantasy. She was also an editor at Penguin India between 2012 and 2013.

Expert Consultants

Rimjhim Aggarwal, Associate Professor, School of Sustainability, and Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Robyn Barfoot, Big Cat/Carnivore Specialist

Rohit Chandra, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

Nalini Chhetri, Associate Director and Clinical Associate Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and Clinical Associate Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Grace L. Dillon (Anishinaabe), Professor, Indigenous Nations Studies Program, Portland State University

Uttaran Dutta, Assistant Professor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, and Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Joseph Kunkel, Executive Director, Sustainable Native Communities (SNC) Design Lab

Ariane Middel, Assistant Professor, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, Arizona State University

Sahil Nijhawan, British Academy Fellow, Zoological Society of London; ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, University College London

Nancy Selover, Climatologist, State of Arizona, and Research Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University

Mukul Sharma, Professor, Development Communication, Indian Institute of Mass Communication

Raj Kumar Singh, Assistant Professor, School of Earth, Ocean, and Climate Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar

Rebecca Tsosie, Regents’ Professor, James E. Rogers College of Law, and Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, University of Arizona; Supreme Court Justice, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

Yamini Yogya, PhD student, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

To learn more, contact Joey Eschrich at jpe@asu.edu