One of the main questions that this lecture addressed was whether the phenomenon of global warming challenges some of the main narratives or themes of human history that have dominated discussions in the humanities since the end of the Second World War: decolonization, development, the legacies of European empires, globalization, and the rise of postcolonial thinking.
The climate crisis leads us to think of our times as characterized by the coming together of three very different kinds of histories that are usually separated by scale, causation and methods of research: the natural history of the Eearth, the history of life on this planet including that of humanity as a dominant species, and the much more short-term and recent history of industrial civilization or capitalism. This lecture will seek to draw out some implications of this planetary conjuncture for how we think about human history, going forward.
Lecture III: Climate and the Human Condition
Does the climate crisis indicate a fundamental change in the human condition, as described and analyzed by Hannah Arendt in her book of that name? The third lecture will close the series with some reflections on this question and by responding to the work of Bruno Latour and others on the issue of human agency in the so-called epoch of the Anthropocene.
Dipesh Chakrabarty is the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is an Affiliate Faculty of the English Department and a resource faculty for Comparative Literature. He is also a Faculty Fellow of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory. Chakrabarty holds a visiting professorial fellowship at the Research School of Humanities at the Australian National University, and an honorary professorial fellowship with the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He also serves on the Board of Experts for the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. His publications include Rethinking Working-Class History: Bengal 1890-1940 (1989, 2000); Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (2000, 2007); Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (2002).