Climate Change and the Art of Devotion

Geoaesthetics in the Land of Krishna, 1550-1850

Sugata Ray

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  • Published: July 2019
  • Subject Listing: Art History / Asian Art; Asian Studies / South Asia; Nature and Environment
  • Bibliographic information: 272 pp., 111 color illus., 3 maps, 7 x 10 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Global South Asia
  • Contents

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

"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