Writing South Asian history in the Anthropocene

Professor Prasannan Parthasarathi
Department of History, Boston College, Massachusetts

@ATREE 21 July 2014, Monday. 3.45pm

This talk considers some of the ways in which historians can rethink their practices in the wake of human-made climate change. It begins with a consideration of the problem of economic divergence and convergence from c.1600 to the present with special focus on how climate change informed Prof Parthasarathi’s recent book, Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 2011). It then turns to the issue of deforestation in nineteenth-century South India and argues that these changes in the land were driven in significant part by the rise of a new energy economy. With these reflections, the paper begins to integrate questions of the Anthropocene more centrally into the writing of South Asian history and move environmental concerns from the margins of historical enquiry to the centre.

About Professor Prasannan Parthasarathi
Prasannan Parthasarathi finished a PhD in History from Harvard University in 1992. His recent book Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not was awarded the Jerry Bentley Book Prize of the World History Association. His earlier books include The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200-1850, and The Transition to A Colonial Economy: Weavers, Merchants and Kings in South India, 1720-1800. Prof Parthasarathi is currently engaged in a study of environmental change, agriculture, and labour in nineteenth-century South India. He is a senior editor of International Labor and Working Class History and serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals including Textile History, the Medieval History Journal, and the American Historical Review.

For details contact Madhavi Latha at +9180 23635555 extn 121 or madhavi@atree.org