Embattled Earth: Commodities,Conflict and Climate Change in the Indian Ocean

Thursday, November 1 2018 6:00 pm

UWM Peck School of the Arts
Music Recital Hall

Amitav Ghosh, one of the most important novelists and essayists of our
time, traces the entangled history of commodities, conflict and climate
change in the Indian Ocean. Since the time of Vasco da Gama’s voyage,
the Indian Ocean has been the theatre of intense imperial rivalries over
commodities and resources. For centuries the main players in these
conflicts were Western colonial powers, but lately the countries of the
Indian Ocean rim have themselves become major consumers of
resources, and thus, the principal drivers of anthropogenic climate
change, an ongoing process that will have catastrophic consequences for
the billions of people who live around the Indian Ocean. This lecture
explores the continuities between the resource conflicts of the past and
the future by focusing on two transformative imperial wars: the
Anglo-Dutch spice wars of the 17th century and the 1st Opium War of
1840-42. It also poses a question: are the imperatives of empire and
military supremacy among the major drivers of climate change?