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The Nutmeg's Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis
The fragrance of nutmeg fills many kitchens around the holidays. But this heavenly spice has a hidden hellish past. In his 2021 book The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis, award-winning author Amitav Ghosh uses the haunting history of how nutmeg became a staple of the spice rack to reveal how colonialism and the commodification of the Earth’s resources has led us to the climatic tipping points and global crises we face today.

The Living on Earth Book Club, Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston, and UMass Boston School for the Environment proudly present a free, live conversation between Host Steve Curwood and The Nutmeg's Curse author Amitav Ghosh. Yale Professor of History Sunil Amrith, who studies environmental history and the history of migration, and Rebecca Herst, Director of the Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston, will give opening remarks.

The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation—of both human life and the natural environment. In Ghosh’s hands, the story of the nutmeg becomes a parable for our environmental crisis, revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials such as spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels.

Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial histories with the deep inequality we see around us today. By interweaving discussions on everything from the global history of the oil trade to the migrant crisis and the animist spirituality of Indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg’s Curse offers a sharp critique of Western society and speaks to the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.

Looking for a copy of the book? Consider purchasing through Living on Earth + Bookshop, which supports indie bookstores and nonprofits like LOE. https://bookshop.org/a/20556/9780226815459

Nov 28, 2022 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Amitav Ghosh
Author, "The Nutmeg's Curse"
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He is a novelist and essayist whose many books include the acclaimed Ibis Trilogy (Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire), Gun Island, Jungle Nama: A Story of the Sundarban, and The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Amitav Ghosh holds two Lifetime Achievement awards and four honorary doctorates. In 2007 he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India's highest honors, by the President of India. In 2010 he was a joint winner, along with Margaret Atwood of a Dan David prize. In 2018 the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor, was conferred on Amitav Ghosh. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award. In 2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade.
Steve Curwood
Executive Producer and Host @Living on Earth
Steve Curwood created the first pilot of Living on Earth in the Spring of 1990 and today the show is aired on more than 250 public radio stations in the USA. Steve has been a journalist for more than 30 years with experience at NPR, CBS News, the Boston Globe, WBUR-FM/Boston and WGBH-TV/Boston. He shared the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service as part of the Boston Globe's education team. Steve is also the recipient of the 2003 Global Green Award for Media Design, the 2003 David A. Brower Award from the Sierra Club for excellence in environmental reporting and the 1992 New England Environmental Leadership Award from Tufts University for his work on promoting environmental awareness. A faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, he is also a professor of practice at UMass Boston.
Sunil Amrith
Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History @Yale University
Sunil Amrith is the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University, and current chair of the South Asian Studies Council at Yale’s MacMillan Center. Amrith is a historian of South and Southeast Asia, with particular interests in environmental history and the history of migration. He is the author of four books, including Crossing the Bay of Bengal (2013) and Unruly Waters (2018), and is currently writing The Ruins of Freedom: An Environmental History of the Modern World for W.W. Norton. Amrith is the recipient of the 2022 Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History, a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, and the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities. (Photo credit: Bram Belloni/Heineken Prizes)