The Next Monsoon: Climate Change and Contemporary Cultural Production in South Asia

October 27, 2023 – October 29, 2023
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 114 Central Ave, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

South Asia is an empirical microcosm of the ecological and epistemological upending caused by climate change. Forming a quarter of the world’s population and inhabiting tremendous cultural and geographic diversity, South Asia provides a unique case study for examining the challenges of climate change on diverse cultural forms. Climate change has indelibly altered landscapes and people, from Bangladeshi river deltas to Nepali mountaintops to Pakistani deserts to Indian megalopolises to Maldivian islands.

This conference thus asks: How is climate change rendered in visual arts, cinema, literature, and architecture in South Asia? How do projects of cultural expression render visibility to place-based narratives in South Asia? A humanistic approach to climate change entails developing modes of attention to a world yet to come. Centering the human imagination in the scientized field of climate change engenders a view of environmental variation over time that highlights the flexibility, resilience, and persistence of human life and its relation to the nonhuman worlds. Such a perspective links meaning and materiality, ingenuity, imagination, literature and livelihoods, subsistence, and stories.