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The Climate of History in a Planetary Age


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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

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." * Francois 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 *
"Historian Dipesh Chakrabarty confronts the 'planeticide' by calling for a humanistic and critical approach to the Anthropocene. . . . Ever alert to the holistic and far reaching vision upheld by 'deep history,' the Chicago professor re-raises the old question of the human condition in the new framework of the geobiological history of the planet." * Arquitectura Viva *
"The Climate of History in a Planetary Age, by Dipesh Chakrabarty, is in my judgment the most compelling and encompassing book by a humanist on the complexities and asymmetries of the Anthropocene to date." * The Contemporary Condition *
"For Chakrabarty, 'global' does not refer to the entirety of the world, but rather to a particular mode of thought. . . . In critiquing the global, Chakrabarty offers another mode of thinking that can perhaps provide the philosophical grounding for a truly ecological approach. He terms it the 'planetary.' Chakrabarty argues the 'planetary' is not a unified totality, but rather 'a dynamic ensemble of relationships.' While the global mode of thought retains the centrality of the human observer, the planetary mode of thought decentres the human and its apprehension of the world. The human becomes only one node within a much more complex and multivalent system of actors, both human and non-human." -- Christopher McAteer * Green European Journal *
"In The Climate of History in a Planetary Age, University of Chicago historian and theorist Dipesh Chakrabarty provides an expansive, but hardly exhaustive, overview of the Anthropocene, focusing on how historians, in particular, have grappled with the conditions of a world under physical duress. As humans have become a 'geological force' in this new epoch and the earth has itself become an archive, with human behavior imprinted in the fossil record and ice caps, we are at the cusp of a new understanding of the agency of humankind and other terrestrial beings. This 'planetary' understanding can, in turn, offer a new ethical paradigm for inhabiting this afflicted present, and can apply to remote pasts and possible futures. Such, at least, is the hope expressed in Chakrabarty's book." * The Hedgehog Review *
"Immensely clarifying and illuminating. . . . while Chakrabarty frequently invokes research produced by natural scientists, his argument carves out an important space for humanists in interpreting and responding to the consequences of anthropogenic geological agency." * Isis Journal *
"This book provides a thought-provoking, complex discussion of how climate change challenges the humanities, history, and the human sense of time but presupposes a command of intellectual history. . . . Overall, Chakrabarty outlines the overlapping of different histories once thought to be distinct. The planet itself, he argues, is a 'humanist category.'" * Choice *

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