The South Asian Studies Council Colloquium Series presents
Nayanika Mathur, School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford:
“Writing the Anthropocene from the Indian Himalaya.”
This lecture centres changing human-nonhuman relations in the Indian Himalaya to ask what it means to write from a place, and how anthropology as a discipline should respond to the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is taken to constitute not just a new geologic age of the planet characterised by extreme events, biodiversity loss, the melting of glaciers, etc. – the climate crisis – but also as an imperative of finding new ways of doing and communicating academic labour. While the singularity of ethnography as a method and as a mode of describing the world remains unquestionable, the climate crisis demands a transformation of the craft. This is not just so that anthropology can speak more stridently to wider audiences, but also to empirically grasp the complex multi-scalar realities of a planet in crisis. This lecture argues for the need to forge new alliances with not just cognates in the social sciences and humanities, but also with climate scientists. It makes a renewed call for considering how anthropologists tell stories and act as translators. Working through ‘beastly tales’ or stories populated by human and nonhuman agents of all stripes and their complex entanglements in India, this lecture attempts one such climate translation across domains of knowledges that are often kept separate from one another. In so doing, it hopes to show what an anthropology for – and not just in – the Anthropocene can become.