Postponed: Ian Morris - "Geography is Destiny" - James A. Robinson

Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Ian Morris

*This event had been postponed due to unforseen circumstances.

Ian Morris will discuss his recent book Geography is Destiny: Britain's Place in the World: A 10,000-Year History. He will be joined in conversation by James A. Robinson

This event will be held in-person at Seminary Co-op. At this time, masks are required while in the store and strongly encouraged at outdoor events.


About the book: In the wake of Brexit, Ian Morris chronicles the ten-thousand-year history of Britain's relationship to Europe as it has changed in the context of a globalizing world. When Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the 48 percent who wanted to stay and the 52 percent who wanted to go each accused the other of stupidity, fraud, and treason. In reality, the Brexit debate merely reran a script written ten thousand years earlier, when the rising seas physically separated the British Isles from the European continent. Ever since, geography has been destiny―yet it is humans who get to decide what that destiny means. Ian Morris, the critically acclaimed author of Why the West Rules―for Now, describes how technology and organization have steadily enlarged Britain’s arena, and how its people have tried to turn this to their advantage. For the first seventy-five hundred years, the British were never more than bit players at the western edge of a European stage, struggling to find a role among bigger, richer, and more sophisticated continental rivals. By 1500 CE, however, new kinds of ships and governments had turned the European stage into an Atlantic one; with the English Channel now functioning as a barrier, England transformed the British Isles into a United Kingdom that created a worldwide empire. Since 1900, thanks to rapid globalization, Britain has been overshadowed by American, European, and―increasingly―Chinese actors. In trying to find its place in a global economy, Britain has been looking in all the wrong places. The ten-thousand-year story bracingly chronicled by Geography Is Destiny shows that the great question for the current century is not what to do about Brussels; it’s what to do about Beijing.

About the author: Ian Morris is an archaeologist and historian and teaches at Stanford University. Born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960, he now lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. He has won awards for his writing and teaching, and has directed archaeological digs in Greece and Italy. He has also published 15 books, which have been translated into 19 languages. His newest book, Geography is Destiny (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Profile 2022), examines Britain's place in the world over the 10,000 years since rising waters began separating the Isles from the Continent--and asks where the story will go next. He is a fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society for the Arts.

About the interlocutor: James A. Robinson is the Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies and University Professor, Harris School of Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago. An economist and political scientist, James Robinson has conducted influential research in the field of political and economic development and the relationships between political power and institutions and prosperity. His work explores the underlying causes of economic and political divergence both historically and today and uses both the mathematical and quantitative methods of economics along with the case study, qualitative and fieldwork methodologies used in other social sciences. Robinson has a particular interest in Latin America, where he has taught every summer for over 25 years at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and in sub-Saharan Africa. He has conducted fieldwork and collected data in Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. He has published three books co-authored with Daron Acemoglu, an Institute Professor of Economics at MIT. The first, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy proposed a theory of the emergence of and stability of democracy and dictatorship. Their second book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (translated into 41 languages since its publication in 2012), pulled together much of their joint research on comparative development and proposed a theory of why some countries have flourished economically while others have fallen into poverty. Their most recent book, The Narrow Corridor: States, Society and the Fate of Libertyexamines the incessant and inevitable struggle between states and society, and gives an account of the deep historical processes that have shaped the modern world.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-Op Bookstores
5751 S Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637