Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

April 12, 2022

Reading List: Climate and the Legacies of Empire

by Hannah Wilson-Black

Last month, the faculty working group for the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU) hosted its first panel discussion, Climate and the Legacies of Empire, with Sunil Amrith and Keston Perry, moderated by Elizabeth Chatterjee. This event was the first public introduction of the CEGU proposal, with panelists exploring many of the issues CEGU aims to address.

If you kept reaching for a pen to jot down panelists’ favorite books or if you missed the event but want to learn more, this reading list (complete with timestamps) is for you! 

00:09:18 Stephen Gardiner is the author of A Perfect Moral Storm (Oxford University Press, 2011), and co-author of Debating Climate Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Dialogues on Climate Justice (Routledge, 2022).

00:10:35 Amitav Ghosh wrote The Nutmeg’s Curse (University of Chicago Press, 2021).

00:13:36 Panelist Sunil Amrith’s most recent books are Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013) and Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia’s History(Basic Books, 2018).

00:16:02 Recent articles by panelist Keston Perry can be found inGeoforumPolitics, and Development and Change: 

00:20:22 Sunil is quoting an article that Mahatma Gandhi wrote for the journal Young India in December of 1928.

00:21:53 Tetsuro Watsuji wrote Climate and Culture: A Philosophical Study (English translation published by Greenwood Press in 1988) .

00:22:25 Samuel Moyn teaches at Yale Law School.

00:23:15 Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, gave a speech to the UN Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm on June 14, 1972.

00:24:16 Jonathan Rigg and Lisa Mason wrote “Five dimensions of climate science reductionism” in Nature Climate Change, (November 2018): 1030-1032.

00:27:36 Norman Girvan was a Jamaican political economist, professor, and Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States from 2000-2004.

00:27:55 “When Columbus landed in the Caribbean he thanked God and enquired urgently after gold. Nowadays the investors arrive by jet clipper. They thank the Minister of Pioneer Industries and enquire after bauxite.” This quote is from Lloyd Best’s “Independent Thought and Caribbean Freedom,” Caribbean Quarterly 43, no. 1-2 (March-June 1997): 16-24. 

00:33:12 Yarimar Bonilla is a scholar and writer focusing on coloniality, sovereignty, digital ethnography, and other topics. For further reading, see her April 2020 piece, “The coloniality of disaster: Race, empire, and the temporal logics of emergency in Puerto Rico, USA,” Political Geography 78 (April 2020).

00:35:34 Macarena Gómez-Barris is the Founding Director of the Global South Center (GSC) and author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke University Press, 2017).

00:56:47 CSE is the New Dehli-based Centre for Science and Environment.

00:57:42 The IMF is the International Monetary Fund

01:06:44 BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

01:08:18 The Indian Forest Acts were a series of laws designed by the British imperial government in India from 1876 through 1927 which allowed them to seize community-managed land for timber production.

01:10:11 Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, “Some Islands Will Rise” in Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 4, no. 2-3 (2017): p.166-184.

01:13:44 AOSIS is the Alliance of Small Island States.

01:14:05 ALBA is the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America, made up of 10 member states in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

01:17:15 Andreas Malm is a researcher and professor in Lund University’s Department of Human Geography. Jason Moore is an environmental historian at Binghamton University.

01:18:08 Ken Pomeranz is a professor of history at the University of Chicago who wrote “The Great Himalayan Watershed” in New Left Review 58 (July-August 2009).

01:19:34 The Narmada movement is fighting a number of dam projects on the Narmada River in India. The Chipko movement was a nonviolent protest movement in the 1970s that aimed to protect forests from government-approved logging near the Himalayan range.  

01:20:17 Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan teaches and studies environmental history and political anthropology at Yale University. Among many other publications, he wrote “Courts, Public Cultures of Legality, and Urban Ecological Imagination in Delhi,” Chapter 6 of Places of Nature in Ecologies of Urbanism (Hong Kong University Press, 2017).

01:21:10 Anna M. Gade teaches at UW-Madison and studies global cultural, historical and religious responses to environmental change.

01:24:23 Adom Getachew, Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination(Princeton University Press, 2019).

01:25:02 Michael Manley served three terms as the prime minister of Jamaica (1972–80 and 1989–92). Eric Williams was the first prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago, from 1956 to 1981. 

The Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU) is a proposal currently under development by a faculty working group at the University of Chicago. Based in the Division of Social Sciences, CEGU is envisioned as a robust interdisciplinary platform for critical thinking, advanced research, and innovative pedagogy on the societal and spatial dimensions of climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental transformation. Please visit cegu.info for more information on the proposal and the faculty working group’s upcoming events.