Past Event

Climate Crisis in South Asia: Imagining Other Ways

October 14, 2022
2:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.
501 Schermerhorn Hall (Upper campus)

Location:  501 Schermerhorn Hall (Upper campus)

Morningside map:

Organized by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Katherine Pratt Ewing

Co-sponsored by the Climate School, Department of Anthropology, Heyman Center for the Humanities, and Institute for Comparative Literature and Society


This symposium addresses the possible roles of the humanities and qualitative social sciences in thinking about the relationships between development and climate change, focusing on South Asia and its vulnerabilities.  How can the stories we tell and teach as scholars participate in public discourse and effective political action? 



Thangam Ravindranathan, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Brown University.

Nayanika MathurProfessor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford.

Nusrat Chowdhury, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Amherst College.

Katherine Pratt Ewing, Professor of Religion; Director, South Asia Institute, Columbia University.

Rosalind C. Morris, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor; founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University.



2:00pm- 2:15pm:  Welcome and Opening Remarks: Katherine Pratt Ewing

2:15pm-3:00pm: Nayanika Mathur, "Crooked Cats: Beastly Tales from the Indian Himalaya"

3:00pm – 3:45pm: Thangam Ravindranathan, "Superstitious Reading"

4:00pm-4:45 pm: Nusrat Chowdhury, "Bridging Bangladesh: Populist Projects and the Dreamwork of Development"

4:45pm-5:30pm: Commentary and discussion:  Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Rosalind C. Morris

Participant Bios:

Thangam Ravindranathan is Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Behold an Animal: Four Exorbitant Readings (2020); Donner le change: L'impensé animal (with Antoine Traisnel, 2016) and Là où je ne suis pas: récits de dévoyage (2012). Her current book project, titled Unearthly Literature, enquires into literature's ways of registering environmental degradation, with a particular focus on novels and critical thought from (and since) the post-war decades.  Prof. Ravindranathan's teaching and research interests include 20th- and 21st-century literature and critical theory; narratives of travel and space; the contemporary novel; the question of the animal; narrative and matter; literature and ecology..

Nayanika Mathur is Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford. She is the author of two books: Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy, and the Developmental State in Himalayan India (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and, more recently, Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene (UChicago Press 2021, HarperCollins India 2022). She is the co-editor of four collections, including a recent book, The People of India: New Indian Politics in the 21st Century, with Penguin India. Over 2022-23 she is in resident as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton working on a new project that considers questions of method opened out by the climate crisis.

Nusrat Chowdhury is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Amherst College. She is a political anthropologist interested in questions of popular sovereignty and political communication, with broad conceptual interests in protest, political affect, rumor, sacrifice, and development. Her publications include Paradoxes of the Popular: Crowd Politics in Bangladesh (2019) and a forthcoming volume, Art, Politics, and the Environment in Bangladesh: Fifty Years On, co-edited with Lotte Hoek.

Katherine Pratt Ewing is Professor of Religion and Director of the South Asia Institute at Columbia University. An anthropologist, her work focuses on the politics of Islam in South Asia and the futures that Muslims imagine for themselves.

Rosalind C. Morris is Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University. Rosalind Morris’ work is addressed to the histories and social lives—including the deaths and afterlives—produced in the interstices of industrial and resource-based capitalism in the Global South. Those interests extend to the technological and media forms that attend or under-gird these economies, and the forms of subjectivity produced in their midst. Her early work was centered on mainland Southeast Asia, especially Thailand.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor and a founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University. She has been an activist in rural education and feminist and ecological social movements since 1986.