Title Climate Change and the Art of Devotion
Subtitle Geoaesthetics in the Land of Krishna, 1550-1850
Author Sugata Ray
ISBN 9780295745374
List price GBP 58.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Hardbound
No of pages 264
Book size 178 x 254 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher University of Washington press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“A wonderfully imaginative addition to the growing body of literature on the Little Ice Age. Sugata Ray traces the influence of climatic variations on South Asian art, architecture, and devotional practices with extraordinary interpretive skill.”

Amitav Ghosh, Author, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable


“The rocks, rivers, forests, plants, animals, and even the skies of the Mathura-Vrindavan region in north India come alive as historical agents acting alongside humans in Ray’s pioneering and imaginative attempt to develop a geoaesthetic approach to the study of Hindu religious art and architecture over a period ranging from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. His impressive ability to connect events in the realm of aesthetics and religious devotion with the climatic impact of the Little Ice Age in South Asia, is bound to influence debates in art history in South Asia and beyond. A brilliant achievement.”

Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago


“A bold and ambitious project that takes on a sweeping range of issues across both the humanities and social sciences. Ray brings core Indian material into dialogue with current conversations about the relationship between the human and nonhuman, between materiality and immateriality, and climate change and visual culture. The book serves as a challenge to future scholars to expand the range of their own conversations.”

Tamara Sears, author of Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings: Architecture and Asceticism in Medieval India


“Sugata Ray’s Climate Change and the Art of Devotion draws an unexpected and strikingly original connection between the catastrophic consequences of the Little Ice Age (c.1550-1850) and the rise of a site-specific theology at the pilgrim centre of Braj in India. This scholarly, elegantly written art historical monograph that skilfully combines archival scholarship with theoretical sophistication, makes a powerful contribution to recent debates on the environmental crisis in the present anthropocene epoch.”

Partha Mitter, author of The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-Garde – 1922-1947


In the enchanted world of Braj, the primary pilgrimage center in north India for worshippers of Krishna, each stone, river, and tree is considered sacred. In Climate Change and the Art of Devotion, Sugata Ray shows how this place-centered theology emerged in the wake of the Little Ice Age (ca. 1550–1850), an epoch marked by climatic catastrophes across the globe. Using the frame of geoaesthetics, he compares early modern conceptions of the environment and current assumptions about nature and culture.

A groundbreaking contribution to the emerging field of eco–art history, the book examines architecture, paintings, photography, and prints created in Braj alongside theological treatises and devotional poetry to foreground seepages between the natural ecosystem and cultural production. The paintings of deified rivers, temples that emulate fragrant groves, and talismanic bleeding rocks that Ray discusses will captivate readers interested in environmental humanities and South Asian art history.



Note on Transliteration

Map of Major Sites in South Asia

Introduction: Climate Change and Art History

Chapter 1. Water

Chapter 2. Land

Chapter 3. Forest

Chapter 4. Ether

Coda: Geoaesthetics in a Hindu Pilgrimage Town




About the Author:

Sugata Ray is associate professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the University of California, Berkeley.

Target Audience:

This book is useful for people interested in Asian studies, environmental studies, ecology, religion studies, architecture, photography, history and literature.


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