Sunil Amrith is the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University, He is the author of four books, including Unruly Waters (2018) and Crossing the Bay of Bengal (2013). His work connects environmental history with the history of migration, with a focus on South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Amrith is the receipient of the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities, a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, and the 2022 A.H. Heineken Prize for History. Sunil Armit’s work puts global migration at the heart of global environmental history, bridging those two fields in new ways. His research shows that the origins of our global environmental emergency are inseparable from the inequalities that arose from the reshaping of the planet by human mobility in the age of empire. He uses historical perspectives to question current assumptions about how climate change and migration are connected, arguing against a reductive and deterministic view of their relationship. His perspective on global environmental history moves outwards from the languages, landscapes, and waters of South and Southeast Asia. At the heart of his investigation is the reshaping of the planet by global migration. In order to understand what environmental justice demands now, we need to understand that environmental harm accelerated in tandem with human movement under conditions of unfreedom. This has led him to imagine the relationship between the climate crisis and migration as fundamentally a crisis of habitability, as large numbers of people around the world find their homes – places of attachment and belonging – becoming unlivable through sustained erosion as much as sudden crisis. Understanding this crisis of habitability suggests that our conception of environmental justice should expand to include the right to remain, as well as the right to migrate.

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