Across contemporary Asia, each day dawns with a new story about living in an era of profound environmental change. Rapid transformations in the landscape, society, and technology produce new conflicts that are experienced at nearly every scale of life in the region. Environmental change is marked in square kilometers or micrometers, in cities or in households, within national boundaries and beyond. These changes appear in the form of radical ruptures wrought both by spectacular catastrophes like massive floods or tsunamis and by slow tragedies like the widening epidemic of asthma or the grinding processes of land dispossession. Each of these scales and phenomena reveals what it is to live in disastrous times.
This book explores how people across Asia live through and make sense of the environmental ruptures that now shape the region and asks how we might analyze this moment of disruption and risk. Global environmental shifts such as climate change are usually linked to large-scale practices such as industrialization, urbanization, and global capitalism. Here, in contrast, contributors illustrate how understanding the practical, political, and ethical consequences of living in a moment of planetary change—or intervening in its course—requires engaging with the human-scale actions and specific policies that both shape and respond to such transformations at an everyday level. Coastal residents of routinely flooded Semarang, eco-conscious retirees in a Chinese suburb, and cyclists navigating air pollution in Kolkata each experience environmental risk and change in highly situated and specific ways; yet attending to their lived, quotidian experiences enables us to apprehend the complex processes that are profoundly changing the planet.
Contributors: Nikolaj Blichfeldt, Vivian Choi, Eli Elinoff, Jenny Elaine Goldstein, Andrew Alan Johnson, Samuel Kay, Lukas Ley, Edmund Joo Vin Oh, Malini Sur, Tyson Vaughan.
"A welcome contribution to the critical social science of the anthropocene. Disastrous Times not only develops a 'quotidian' understanding of a sometimes abstract and theoretical concept but also demonstrates the importance of Asian research sites for reassessing what has been a primarily Euro-American debate."—Jerome Whitington, author of Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower