The Nutmeg’s Curse
In this deeply researched and beautifully written book, Amitav Ghosh convincingly argues that our current planetary climate crisis is the predictable outcome of centuries of Western, resource-driven colonialism, along with the concomitant marginalization and sometimes extermination of Indigenous cultures. This geopolitical world order – which early on focused on the commodification of nutmeg and other spices, followed by tea, sugarcane, opium, and finally fossil fuels – continues to this day. Our current crises – of climate, community, and spirit – can be seen as the result of a mechanistic view of the Earth, one where nature exists primarily as a resource for humans to exploit, rather than as a living force filled with agency and meaning. The book ends on a hopeful note of bringing attention to the re-enlivening of nature, a way of thinking about the geosphere and biosphere that takes seriously the world views of the Indigenous cultures that have suffered tremendously in the course of this history. My favorite book of 2021.
Teaching Professor of Neurobiology and Psychology
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!