In May 2020 a deadly tropical cyclone struck Eastern India and Bangladesh. Named ‘Amphan’ and classified as a ‘Super Cyclone’ this was almost certainly a climate change induced extreme event.
This event was organised by the Climate Crisis Thinking in the Humanities and Social Sciences Network https://torch.ox.ac.uk/climate-crisis-thinking-in-the-humanities-and-social-sciences . The full scale of destruction caused by cyclone Amphan in India (the states of Odisha and West Bengal) and Bangladesh remains to be yet fully understood and tabulated. We bring together a panel of historians, geographers, and anthropologists who have longstanding research in the effected region of South Asia on related topics of ecology, climate change, human-animal relations, conservation, and the Anthropocene. This session is interested in probing the relationship between the climate crisis and the very specific history, politics, sociology, and ethnography of South Asia. As such it has two broad aims.
Firstly, we try to shine light on the devastating effect of the climate crisis in South Asia. This is particularly important given the poor coverage the cyclone – its causes and the trail of devastation it has left in its wake – got globally and, even, regionally. As is the case with so much of the climate crisis there is a collective forgetting of its effects, especially when they take place in lands considered ‘Other’ or distant. This panel is but one small attempt to resist such collective forgetting.
Secondly and Relatedly, as we note in the aims of our network, the academy is oftentimes too slow in responding to the climate crisis or does so in somewhat inaccessible forms. Through this discussion we get academics from across the Humanities and Social Sciences working on the environment and climate change to present their analyses to a global public. As such it constituted a demonstration of the ways in which careful Humanities and Social Science knowledge can contribute in a timely and engaged manner with what it means to live through the climate crisis.
Debjani Bhattacharyya (Drexel University)
Jason Cons (UT Austin)
Annu Jalais (National University of Singapore)
Megnaa Mehtta (Sheffield University)
Kasia Paprocki (The London School of Economics)