Event Details

NOTE: the correct time for the start of this event is 6:30 PM Beijing time, not 8.30PM as in the previous notice.

Against the background of COP27 in Egypt, the Yale Center Beijing and RASBJ invite you to hear renowned environmental expert and Yale Professor Sunil Amrith explain what Asia can teach us about protecting our natural world.

WHAT: an RASBJ online talk by Yale Professor Sunil Amrith exploring "Why does Asia matter for global environmental history, and what can Asia teach us?" in conversation with the Guardian's global environment editor Jon Watts. This event is co-organized with the Yale Center Beijing

WHEN: Nov. 16, Wednesday from 6.30PM to 7:45 PM Beijing Standard time

MORE ABOUT 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, Professor 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.

Professor Amrith is currently writing The Ruins of Freedom, an environmental history of the modern world to be published in English by W.W. Norton and Allen Lane, as well as in Chinese, Korean, Italian, Dutch, German, and French.

HOW MUCH: This online event is free for RASBJ members, invitees of the Yale Center Beijing, and members of partner RAS branches; RMB 100 for non-members. If you know someone who wants to join RASBJ to attend this talk, please ask them to sign up at https://rasbj.org/membership/ at least 72 hours before the event.

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: Members of RASBJ, Yale alumni and invitees of the Yale Center Beijing -please click "Register" or "I Will Attend" at least 48 hours before the event, and follow the instructions. After successful registration, you'll receive a confirmation email with a link to join the event. If you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder to ensure you see all RASBJ emails

Members of partner RAS branches: Please register at least 72 hours in advance to allow time for membership verification. After successful registration, you'll receive a confirmation email with a link to join the event. If you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder to ensure you see all RASBJ emails


  • Sunil Amrith (Speaker)

    Sunil Amrith


    Sunil Amrith is the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History, and current chair of the South Asian Studies Council. His research focuses on the movements of people and the ecological processes that have connected South and Southeast Asia. Amrith’s areas of particular interest include environmental history, the history of migration, and the history of public health. Amrith is the recipient of the 2022 A.H. Heineken Prize for History, a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, and the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities.

    Amrith’s most recent book is Unruly Waters (Basic Books and Penguin UK), a history of the struggle to understand and control the monsoon in modern South Asia. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Cundill Prize, and was reviewed in Nature, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Review of Books. His previous book, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013) was awarded the American Historical Association’s John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History in 2014, and was selected as an Editor’s Choice title by the New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and Decolonizing International Health: South and Southeast Asia, 1930-1965 (Palgrave, 2006), as well as articles in journals including the American Historical Review, Past and Present, The Lancet and Economic and Political Weekly. Amrith serves on the editorial boards of the American Historical Review and Modern Asian Studies, and he is one of the series editors of the Princeton University Press book series, Histories of Economic Life.

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  • Jonathan Watts (Moderator)

    Jonathan Watts


    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.

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