For the past decade, historian Dipesh Chakrabarty has been one of the most influential scholars addressing the meaning of climate change. Climate change, he argues, upends long-standing ideas of history, modernity, and globalization. The burden of The Climate of History in a Planetary Age is to grapple with what this means and to confront humanities scholars with ideas they have been reluctant to reconsider – from the changed nature of human agency to a new acceptance of universals.
Chakrabarty argues that we must see ourselves from two perspectives at once: the planetary and the global. This distinction is central to Chakrabarty's work – the globe is a human-centric construction, while a planetary perspective intentionally decenters the human. Featuring wide-ranging excursions into historical and philosophical literatures, The Climate of History in a Planetary Age boldly considers how to frame the human condition in troubled times. As we open ourselves to the implications of the Anthropocene, few writers are as likely as Chakrabarty to shape our understanding of the best way forward.
Introduction: Intimations of the Planetary
Part I: The Globe and the Planet
1 Four Theses
2 Conjoined Histories
3 The Planet: A Humanist Category
Part II: The Difficulty of Being Modern
4 The Difficulty of Being Modern
5 Planetary Aspirations: Reading a Suicide in India
6 In the Ruins of an Enduring Fable
Part III: Facing the Planetary
7 Anthropocene Time
8 Toward an Anthropological Clearing
Postscript: The Global Reveals the Planetary: A Conversation with Bruno Latour
Dipesh Chakrabarty is the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth, also published by the University of Chicago Press. He is the recipient of the 2014 Toynbee Prize, which is given to a distinguished practitioner of global history.
"With his new masterwork, Chakrabarty confirms that he is one of the most creative and philosophically-minded historians writing today. The oppositions he proposes between the global of globalization and the global of global warming, between the world and the planet, between sustainability and habitability are illuminating and effective for thinking and acting through our highly uncertain and disoriented times."
– François Hartog, author of Chronos
"One of the first thinkers to reckon with the concept of the Anthropocene and its relation to humanism and its critics, Chakrabarty forges new territory in his account of the planetary. If globalism was an era of human and market interconnection, the planetary marks the intrusion of geological forces, transforming both the concept of 'the human' and its accompanying sense of agency. This is a tour de force of critical thinking that will prove to be a game changer for the humanities."
– Claire Colebrook, Pennsylvania State University