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Genocide and Ecological Ruin in Amitav Ghosh’s The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis


Kamal Sharma, Lecturer, Department of English, Ratna Rajyalaxmi Campus, Kathmandu

Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic of COVID19, Amitav Ghosh in his latest non-fiction text The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis (2021), traces the contemporary planetary crisis back to a historical event popularly known as the Dutch Massacre that occurred in 1621. This massacre resulted in the ruthless exploitation of humans and the natural world by Western imperialism. Ghosh observes that the Banda islands were rich sources of nutmegs and this is the reason why Bandalese was attacked by European settlers to own nutmeg plantations. Dutch officials viewed that there could be no trade without war. The remaining Bandalese who survived the massacre went towards the forests to hide and started living with the spirits of woods, animals, and nature. For Bandalese, nature, as Carolyn Merchant claims, was a mother. The trade and business that the European settlers started along with the genocide of Bandalese continued in different forms and prepared a ground for the ecological crisis. The current predicament is the outcome of a mechanical view of the world in which nature is viewed as a resource for humans to exploit for their purposes. Drawing on the concepts of ecological theorists, this paper claims that the entire relationship of humans to non-human kind such as rivers, mountains, woods, animals, and the spirits of land should be based on reciprocity, ethics, and egalitarian concepts. The transfer of nutmeg from the original islands to the economic centers reveals a wider colonial mindset that justifies the exploitation of the entire ecology, which continues to lead to geopolitics, and functions as a source of planetary crisis. As the paper is qualitative, the ecocritical perspective has been applied to the primary text to conclude that the environmental crisis, seen or unseen, is rooted in colonial practices and capitalism.

Keywords: Banda islands, Ecology, Genocide, Nutmeg, Planetary crisis


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How to Cite

MLA 9th

Sharma, Kamal. “Genocide and Ecological Ruin in Amitav Ghosh’s The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis.” BL College Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, Dec. 2023, pp. 92–111.

APA 7th

Sharma, K. (2023). Genocide and Ecological Ruin in Amitav Ghosh’s The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis. BL College Journal5(2), 92–111.


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