Bhopal: Law, Accidents and Disaster, A Digital Archive initiated by Marc Galanter

Guest Post by Jarrod Bogucki

The University of Wisconsin Law School is proud to present Bhopal: Law, Accidents and Disasters in India, a Digital Archive initiated by Marc Galanter.   This archive is a collection of resources related to the December 1984 disaster at a Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India.  Professor Marc Galanter, a University of Wisconsin-Madison Emeritus Faculty member, who studies Indian law, appeared as an expert in a court case related to the disaster.  In the years following his involvement in the case, Professor Galanter collected articles, letters and other documents pertaining to the tragedy and its subsequent legal action.  With the launch of this newly created archive, these documents are now collected, organized, and made available to the public.

The Bhopal Digital Archive contains thousands of digital files, each with accompanying descriptive data to aid in scholarly research.  These files include court documents from both the United States and Indian cases surrounding the event, articles from newspapers and journals around the world, and a variety of other resources gathered in one place.  The documents describe court proceedings, contain scholarly analysis, and showcase investigative journalism that occurred in the decades following the disaster.  This extensive collection is by no means complete, and it will continue to grow as new documents and resources are discovered.

The Law School strives to make the Bhopal Collection a useful online resource, and to that end has added features to aid in research and discoverability.  The content of the collection can be fully searched across text and data fields for each record.  Many documents can be downloaded as PDFs, and all can be requested through the library at the University of Wisconsin Law School.  To supplement the content, the archive provides links to additional related resources and background information on the Bhopal disaster.  The archive itself is designed to be viewed on desktop, tablet, and mobile displays.

This project was and continues to be a highly collaborative effort, with contributions from faculty, students, librarians and IT staff.  Many hours were spent organizing and scanning documents, writing computer code, and cataloging the collection to make sure it is accurate and easy to use.  The Law Library would like to thank the numerous people who worked so hard on this collection. The project would not have been possible without them.

The 1984 chemical leak in Bhopal was a terrible tragedy, with very real repercussions both in the courtroom and in the real world to this day.  The University of Wisconsin Law School hopes that by providing information about this event we can raise awareness and encourage education that may aid in preventing future industrial catastrophes, while providing documents that were difficult if not entirely possible to locate previously.  If nothing else, this collection will serve as a reminder of what happened and as dedication to the people of Bhopal.  It would be another tragedy to forget the many who suffered and died as a result of this disaster.


Please visit  Bhopal: Law, Accidents and Disaster, A Digital Archive initiated by Marc Galanter at http://repository.law.wisc.edu/bhopal-collection

(Jarrod Bogucki is IT Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin – Madison Law School)

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