Indian writer Amitav Ghosh to deliver Berlin Family Lectures

Susan Allen
News Officer for Arts and HumanitiesUniversity Communications

Award-winning Indian writer Amitav Ghosh will deliver the 2015 Berlin Family Lectures on the literature, history and politics of climate change at the University of Chicago this fall.

Ghosh, who is known for ambitious novels that explore themes of national identity and environmental fragility, is the second Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Lecturer. Legal scholar Lawrence Lessig delivered the inaugural Berlin Family Lectures in 2014.

The Berlin Family Lectures bring to campus individuals who are making fundamental contributions to the arts, humanities and humanistic social sciences. Each visitor gives an extended series of lectures with the aim of interacting with the UChicago community, and developing a book for publication with the University of Chicago Press.

Ghosh’s four-part lecture, “The Great Derangement: Fiction, History and Politics in the Age of Global Warming,” will begin on Sept. 29, and continues on Sept. 30, Oct. 6, and Oct. 7. All lectures will be held at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

The Berlin Family Lectures are named for Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, local philanthropists and longtime University supporters, in honor of their $3 million gift to UChicago. Randy Berlin, AM’77, is a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and a member and past chairperson of the Division of the Humanities’ Visiting Committee. Melvin Berlin is chairman emeritus and founder of Berlin Packaging, LLC.

“Global warming is not just a crisis of economy or environment. It calls into question many of our accustomed modes of thought,” Ghosh said. “These lectures are an attempt to think through some of the issues that arise when we approach literature, history and politics from the perspective of climate change.”

Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and the Ibis Trilogy: Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and 2015’s Flood of Fire.

In January 2007, he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honors, by the president of India. Along with Margaret Atwood, he was also a joint winner of a Dan David Award for 2010. In recognition of his body of work, Ghosh was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. He holds honorary doctorates from Queens College, New York, and the Sorbonne, Paris.          

Ghosh’s writings have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his essays have been published in the New Yorker, the New Republic and The New York Times.

He has taught in many universities in India and the United States, including Delhi University, Columbia University, Queens College and Harvard University. Ghosh received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Delhi and a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Oxford.