Amitav Ghosh – Can the Non-human Speak? Other Beings in Myth, Literature and Ethnography

6.30pm - 8.00pm, 17 January 2019
Performance Hall, Yale-NUS

On the face of it, the question ‘Can the non-human speak?’ is an absurdity.  Yet it is one of the most essential questions of our era of accelerating man-made climate change. At this moment in time, when we look back on the history that has brought us to the point of a planetary catastrophe, we cannot but recognise that our plight is in large part a consequence of the ways in which certain classes of humans have actively muted all other beings by representing them as brutes; that is to say, creatures whose presence on earth is solely material. Dr Ghosh’s talk looks at some of the ways in which non-human consciousness figures in various narrative traditions.

A Q&A will follow the lecture.


Dr Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. He is the author of works such as The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of FireSea of Poppies was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2008 and was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award. His most recent book, The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016 and was awarded the inaugural Utah Award in the Environmental Humanities in 2018.

Dr Ghosh’s writings have been translated into more than thirty languages and he has served on the jury of the Locarno and Venice Film Festivals. His essays have been published in the New Yorker, the New Republic and the New York Times. His essays have been published by Penguin India (The Imam and the Indian) and Houghton Mifflin USA (Incendiary Circumstances).

He has taught in many universities in India and the United States, including Delhi University, Columbia University, Queens College and Harvard University.

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