Prasenjit Duara makes a strong case for the relevance of the humanities in understanding the human dimensions of environmental and climate change. Multiple aspects of the environmental crisis of the Anthropocene, not least questions of environmental justice in efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change, can be engaged through humanistic inquiry. With a focus on Asia, Duara argues that questions of identity, representation, religion, ethics, knowledge systems, and more—central concerns of the humanities—are deeply embedded in imagining how to respond to present environmental challenges.
Prasenjit Duara is the Oscar Tang Chair of East Asian Studies at Duke University. He was born and educated in India, and received his PhD in Chinese history from Harvard University. He was previously professor and chair of the Department of History and chair of the Committee on Chinese Studies at the University of Chicago (1991-2008). Subsequently, he became Raffles Professor of Humanities and the director of the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore (2008-2015).
In 1988, he published Culture, Power and the State: Rural North China, 1900-1942 (Stanford University Press), which won the Fairbank Prize of the AHA and the Levenson Prize of the AAS. Among his other books are Rescuing History from the Nation (The University of Chicago Press, 1995), Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), and most recently, The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future (Cambridge University Press, 2014). He has presented about 150 keynote and distinguished lectures globally since 1996, and his work has been widely translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and the European languages. He was awarded the doctor philosophiae honoris causa from the University of Oslo in 2017.