Amitav GhoshNobel Conference 55

How can the study of history help us to prepare for coming climate crises? In particular, what can we learn from the period known as the “Little Ice Age” in Europe about how climate change will affect our political and social institutions and our belief systems? Internationally renowned writer Amitav Ghosh explored these questions in his Nobel Conference address.

In his latest book of nonfiction, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016), Ghosh directly tackles the problems of inaction and paralysis in our time of climate change. “The climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination.” He asks: Why are humanists, especially literary writers, reluctant to engage directly with climate change? How can addressing climate change be a priority for all humans?

Ghosh, who holds a PhD in social anthropology from Oxford University, is a prolific and celebrated writer, publishing 15 books that range across genres and geographies, from historical fiction to science fiction to nonfiction; and from India to Myanmar to England to Madagascar and beyond. He has always been committed to excavating subordinated histories and in finding new modes of narrating them. He has received numerous literary awards, two lifetime achievement awards, and four honorary doctorates including in 2018 he received the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award. Most recently, in
2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade.