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Podcast Episode 03
12:00pm

The Nutmeg's Curse

with Amitav Ghosh
Hosted by Sean Wilson

The Nutmeg's Curse

with Amitav Ghosh
Hosted by Sean Wilson
10
Tuesday
May
12:00pm
Amitav Ghosh - Photo by Dayanita Singh

Sean Wilson sits down with Amitav Ghosh to discuss his latest, The Nutmeg's Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis .  In this ambitious successor to The Great Derangement, Amitav finds the origins of our contemporary climate crisis in Western colonialism’s violent exploitation of human life and the natural environment.

 

A powerful work of history, essay, testimony, and polemic, Amitav Ghosh’s new book traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. The Nutmeg’s Curse argues that the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. At the center of Ghosh’s narrative is the now-ubiquitous spice nutmeg. The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation—of both human life and the natural environment. In Ghosh’s hands, the story of the nutmeg becomes a parable for our environmental crisis, revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials such as spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels. Our crisis, he shows, is ultimately the result of a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning.

 

Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial histories with the deep inequality we see around us today. By interweaving discussions on everything from the global history of the oil trade to the migrant crisis and the animist spirituality of Indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg’s Curse offers a sharp critique of Western society and speaks to the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.

 

Books are available from our friends at Perfect Books.

 

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