Special Event (9/19) Amitav Ghosh on the Low Family and the Opium Trade

Please Join the Columbia University Libraries and the Columbia University and Slavery Project for a conversation with author Amitav Ghosh on his forthcoming book, Smoke and Ashes: Opium’s Hidden Histories, which traces the linkages between the Low family’s participation in the opium trade and their leadership of Columbia University.

Please Join Us Tomorrow Evening:

108 Jerome L. Greene Hall (in the Law School)
September 19, 5:30 pm
Register Here

Smoke and Ashes is at once a travelogue, a memoir, and an essay in history, drawing on decades of archival research. In it, Ghosh traces the transformative effect the opium trade had on Britain, India, and China, as well as the world at large. The trade was engineered by the British Empire, which exported Indian opium to sell to China to redress their great trade imbalance, and its revenues were essential to the empire’s financial survival. Tracing the profits further, Ghosh finds opium at the origins of some of the world’s biggest corporations, of America’s most powerful families and prestigious institutions (from the Astors and Coolidges to the Ivy League), and of contemporary globalism itself.

Amitav Ghosh is the author of the bestselling Ibis trilogy, comprised of Sea of Poppies (short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize), River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire. His other novels include The Circle of Reason, which won the Prix Médicis étranger, and The Glass Palace. He is the author of many works of nonfiction, including The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable and The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis. He holds two lifetime achievement awards and four honorary doctorates. In 2018, Ghosh became the first English-language writer to receive the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The Columbia University and Slavery Project is a research and justice initiative examining Columbia’s connections to the history and legacies of enslavement. The ongoing work aims to provide a fuller and more nuanced picture of Columbia’s past, while also helping to inform conversations about the university’s role in the present.