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Amitav Ghosh, “The Nutmeg’s Curse: Non-human Voices and More-than-human Stories”

February 22 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Are humans the only beings that are endowed with the ability to communicate and make meaning? For a long time it was assumed that this was axiomatically true. But one effect of our increasingly climate-disrupted world is that it has made us aware that our minds and bodies are deeply intertwined with many other organisms, entities, and forces. This lecture by acclaimed author Amitav Ghosh examines some of these entanglements through the story of the nutmeg tree, drawing from his recent book The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2021). A book signing will follow the lecture.Registration is required (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/amitav-ghosh-the-nutmegs-curse-tickets-768382902947). Doors open at 3:30 pm. Ticket holders must arrive by 3:50 pm to claim their seats. Any reserved seats not claimed by 3:50 will be released to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. About the Book A powerful work of history, essay, testimony, and polemic, The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. The book argues that the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. At the center of the 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. About the AuthorAmitav Ghosh is the award-winning author of many works of fiction and non-fiction. His latest book is Smoke and Ashes: A Writer’s Journey Through Opium’s Hidden Histories (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2023). Recent novels include the Ibis Trilogy — Sea of Poppies (Picador, 2008), River of Smoke (Picador, 2011), and Flood of Fire (Picador, 2015) — and Gun Island (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2019). His nonfiction work The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (University of Chicago Press, 2016) received the inaugural Utah Award for the Environmental Humanities in 2018. His essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The New York Times. His honors include the Padma Shri, awarded by the President of India; the Dan David Prize, which he received alongside Margaret Atwood; the Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis Festival in Montreal, and the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor. In 2019 Foreign Policy named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade.Free and open to the public. For questions or to request special services, accommodations, or assistance, please contact humanities-institute@brown.edu (mailto:humanities-institute@brown.edu) or (401) 863-6070.This event is a part of the Greg and Julie Flynn Cogut Institute Speaker Series, which brings high-profile speakers in the humanities to the Brown University campus. Each visit includes a public lecture and a separate seminar-style meeting with undergraduate students.