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Work, Mobility, and Risk in a Changing Monsoon

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, April 10, 2018. 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Humanities Center Boardroom
Workshop: 
Worlds of Work and the Work of Networks
Meeting Description: 

Most  scholarship in the social sciences and humanities remains “climate blind”.  This is certainly true of the study of migration. The profusion of work on networks and connections and diasporas in recent historical scholarship, for example, has paid little attention to landscape and climate. By contrast, in policy circles, invoking the figure of the “climate refugee” serves to erase context, agency, and power from our understanding of how climate change affects particular communities in particular places. My talk asks whether it is possible to bring climate back in to our study of migration, but without falling prey to an older and discredited environmental determinism. Drawing on research in coastal South India and further along the Bay of Bengal’s littoral, my talk seeks to overlay maps of risk with routes of migration, juxtaposing climatic and imaginative geographies. In doing so, I aim to chart the convergences as well as the tensions in the ways ecologists and humanists think about region and space.

Sunil Amrith is Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies and professor of history, as well as  a director of the Joint Center for History and Economics. His research is on the trans-regional movement of people, ideas, and institutions, and has focused most recently on the Bay of Bengal as a region connecting South and Southeast Asia. Amrith's areas of particular interest include the history of migration, environmental history, and the history of public health. He is a 2017 MacArthur Fellow, and received the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities. Amrith's most recent book, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013) was awarded the American Historical Association's John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History in 2014.

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