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In this lecture Amitav Ghosh traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. Building on his book 'The Nutmeg’s Curse', Ghosh argues that the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism.

Event details of The Nutmeg Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis
Date 20 September 2022
Time 15:00 -17:00
Location Aula - Lutherse kerk

At the center of Ghosh’s narrative is the now-ubiquitous spice nutmeg. The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation—of both human life and the natural environment.

In Ghosh’s hands, the story of the nutmeg becomes a parable for our environmental crisis, revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials such as spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels. Our crisis, he shows, is ultimately the result of a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning. Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial histories with the deep inequality we see around us today.

A sharp critique of Western society

Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial histories with the deep inequality we see around us today. By interweaving discussions on everything from the global history of the oil trade to the migrant crisis and the animist spirituality of Indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg’s Curse offers a sharp critique of Western society and speaks to the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.

About Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow LinesIn An Antique LandDancing in CambodiaThe Calcutta ChromosomeThe Glass PalaceThe Hungry Tide, and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of PoppiesRiver of Smoke and Flood of Fire. His most recent book, The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016.

Aula - Lutherse kerk

Singel 411
1012 XM Amsterdam