Why does Asia matter for Global Environmental History, and what can Asia teach us?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Co-hosted by RASBJ and Yale Center Beijing. This talk is part of the Greenberg Distinguished Colloquium.

Event Time

November 16, 2022 | Wednesday
5:30 am - 6:45 am Eastern Standard Time (EST)
November 16, 2022 | Wednesday
6:30 pm - 7:45 pm China Standard Time (CST)

Participation Format

Registration is required to obtain a ZOOM Conference access link, which will be sent to your registration email or phone shortly. Please enter the ZOOM room 15 minutes before the starting time. When the room is full, latecomers will not be able to access the ZOOM conference.


Please click on“HERE” to register. Please send an email to yalecenterbeijing@yale.edu if there are any problems.


*At registration, please select the “INVITEE OF YALE CENTER BEIJING” option to book your ticket.


The language of the event will be English.

The Event

Even while COP27 proceeds in Egypt, most attempts to take a global perspective on environmental history still begin with the North Atlantic. In this talk, based on his book in progress called The Ruins of Freedom, Yale's Professor of History Sunil Amrith asks what shifts in our perspectives and our narratives if instead we begin in Asia, and in particular with China and India—each taken separately, but also through their deep historical connections with one another. Taking a long historical perspective, Professor Amrith makes a case for why, in the context of the climate crisis, we need to draw on the rich archive of Asian traditions of thinking about human beings as part of, not separate from, the rest of the living planet. On November 16, Professor Amrith will discuss his new book project with Jonathan Watts, Global Environment Editor of The Guardian.

The Speaker

Sunil Amrith
Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History
Chair, South Asian Studies Council, Yale University

Sunil Amrith is the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University. Amrith received his postsecondary education at the University of Cambridge and taught at Birkbeck College at the University of London before becoming the inaugural Mehra Family Professor of South Asian History at Harvard University in 2015. Amrith's research focuses on the Modern South Asian, Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean history. Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2017, he was also awarded the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities for his contributions to the fields of the history of migration, environmental history, the history of international public health, and the history of contemporary Asia.

The Moderator

Jonathan Watts
Global Environment Editor, The Guardian

Jonathan Watts is Global Environment Editor of The Guardian and the author of the eco-travelogue, When a Billion Chinese Jump. An award-winning journalist, he previously served as correspondent in Japan (1996-2003), China (2003-2012) and Brazil (2012-2017). He has written extensively on climate change, deforestation, pollution and environment and has travelled from the Amazon and Andes to the Gobi and Himalayas. He is now based in Brazil where he is writing a biography of James Lovelock, and is launching with his wife, Eliane Brum, a rainforest-centred news platform Sumaúma.com.

Greenberg Distinguished Colloquium

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Maurice R. Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of Starr Insurance Companies, and a member of Yale Center Beijing’s Advisory Committee, Yale Center Beijing is pleased to host the Greenberg Distinguished Colloquium, which convenes thought leaders from all sectors who, in the spirit of Mr. Greenberg, play pivotal roles in building bridges among China, the U.S., and the rest of the world.

Energy & Environment

Public Event