Migration and the Environment: A View from the Indian Ocean World – The Annual Burge Lecture 2021


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The UBC Department of History is pleased to invite you to this year’s Annual Burge Lecture, “Migration and the Environment: A View from the Indian Ocean World” with Dr. Sunil Amrith, Professor of History at Yale University.

Organized by the UBC History Graduate Student Association, the Burge Lecture is an annual endowed lecture made possible by a generous donation from UBC alumnus William Burge. The Burge Lecture series provides students, faculty, alumni and community members the opportunity to connect with historians and scholars engaged in exciting research.

This year’s Burge Lecture is co-sponsored by the Centre for India and South Asia Research, The School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, The Institute of Asian Research and the Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster.

Lecture Abstract: Migration and environmental change are two of the most pressing issues confront    ing the world—both processes are often followed by the word “crisis,” and increasingly they are connected in public discourse, through terms like “environmental refugee.” Yet the fields of migration history and environmental history have proceeded along parallel lines, with few points of intersection. This lecture begins by asking why that has been the case—and then aims to imagine what it would involve to connect environmental history and the history of migration in new ways, focusing on the history of the Indian Ocean–a part of the world where both historical processes have always been deeply connected.

Sunil Amrith is Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University, and current chair of the South Asian Studies Council. He is the author of four books, including Crossing the Bay of Bengal (2013), which was awarded the AHA’s John F. Richards Prize, and Unruly Waters (2018), shortlisted for the 2019 Cundill Prize. Amrith received the MacArthur Fellowship in 2017, and the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2016. Before arriving at Yale in 2020, Amrith was the inaugural Mehra Family Professor of South Asian History at Harvard University.