Mahesh Krishna is a PhD candidate at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India. His doctoral work focuses on posthuman bodies and their representations in biopunk fiction. His areas of interest include science-fiction, posthumanism, ecocriticism, and Marxism. E-mail: mahesh_k@hs.itr.ac.in
Nagendra Kumar is a full Professor of English at IIT Roorkee, India. He specializes in English language, literature, and communication studies. His current areas of interest and research include modern literature, contemporary fiction and critical theories, ecocriticism, fiction of the Indian diaspora, Dalit studies, postcolonial literature, myth and feminism, disability studies, and medical humanities.


Conservation, Capitalism, and the Death of the Human: A Posthumanist Reading of Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl

Abstract: In cultural studies, discourse is a term that refers to the process of “meaning-making” or knowledge formation in a culture through the use of language. In Foucault’s work, discourse is the specific way in which a culture constructs, negotiates, and determines what knowledge is, how power operates, and where sociocultural value is placed, very often through specific objects and/or practices that culture produces. This paper is an attempt to study the discourse of environmentalism in a world that has become (or has been rendered) posthuman, through the analysis of Paolo Bacigalupi’s science fiction novel The Windup Girl (2009). Science fiction has always been in the vanguard of resistance and serves as an excellent vehicle for expressing ideas that may seem outlandish and revolutionary but are imminent and inevitable. The work in question is set in near-future Thailand, amidst rising sea levels and the explosion of extreme late-stage capitalism. The plot focuses on the journey of Emiko, a genetically engineered superhuman “windup” created in a laboratory. Being one of the only nations in the world that have survived, Thailand’s Environment Ministry is the most powerful arm of the government due to the role it played in combating various strains of genetically engineered diseases that caused havoc in the “post-Contraction” world. This paper attempts to study how the discourse of environmentalism operates in a posthuman world, where the argument of human exceptionalism is abandoned, not merely on moral grounds, but at a physical level.
Keywords: posthuman ecocriticism, ecological posthumanism, narrative agency, Foucault, dystopian fiction, Thailand