Biocultural Diversity in the Anthropocene: Lecture by Prasenjit Duara

Prasenjit Duara delivered a lecture on ‘Biocultural Diversity and Agency in the Anthropocene’. It was chaired by Awadhendra Sharan. 


The lecture follows the impact of deforestation and dam building on marginal peoples, particularly upon indigenous and riverine communities in the SW China-SE Asian transregion, who have lived along the Mekong (Lancang in China) rivers. The local knowledge of these communities is crucial to understanding the ecosystems that are being impacted. How do the communities respond to the threats to their livelihood? Is it possible to square their historically evolving, cosmologically based practical responses, including the sacralization of forests and waters with contemporary environmental ideas and programs of ‘protection’? Through this optic, Professor Duara will examine the question of ‘agency’ as presented in modern environmental programs and scholarship of the ‘ontological turn’.  

Prasenjit Duara holds the Oscar Tang Distinguished Chair of East Asian Studies at Duke University.  His latest book is The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future (Cambridge 2014). He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo in 2017 and was elected President of the American Association for Asian Studies (2019-2020).

Awadhendra Sharan is Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Thursday, 11 May 2023, 4.30 pm, Seminar Room and Zoom