2013, Sun, Jan 13

History on an Expanded Canvas: The Anthropocene’s Invitation

Dipesh Chakrabarty

Keynote by Dipesh Chakrabarty (Department of History, University of Chicago). Introduction and talk: Jürgen Renn (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin)


If climate scientists have become social historians, how can one translate their findings and construct an aggregate, common narrative that is not only legible to both localized sociologies and planetary geophysics, but effectively integrates both these positions? Post-colonial theorist and historian Dipesh Chakrabarty reflects on potentialities of past and future narratives within the Anthropocene. What kinds of empowerment and disempowerment do these collaborative and multifaceted storytellings imply for the Anthropocene? Chakrabarty engages with the proposed necessity of associating the histories of the earth and that of humans in order to effectively open up intellectual pathways towards the dissolution of modernity’s misunderstandings concerning human agency and capitalistic freedom.



Dipesh Chakrabarty (Chicago)is professor in the Department of History and the Department of South Asian languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is a founding member of the editorial collective of Subaltern Studies and a founding editor of the journal Postcolonial Studies. His current projects are on the implications of the science of climate change for historical and political thinking, democracy and political thought in South Asia, and a cultural history of Muslim-Bengali nationalism.


Jürgen Renn (Berlin) is head of the department of “Structural Changes in Systems of Knowledge” of the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin, honorary professor for History of Science at Humboldt Universität, Berlin, and adjunct professor for philosophy and physics at Boston University. His research interests include structural changes in systems of knowledge in the natural sciences, comparative studies of the emergence and development of mechanical thinking in Europe and China, and studies on the relativity revolution.


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