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Colonial Sciences and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in South Asia

June 10, 2016



What are the indigenous knowledge systems in South Asia that map onto the English word “science”? How did such systems and the knowledge-making practices associated with them change with the English East India Company’s colonization of the region? What do we mean when we speak of “colonial science” in South Asia? The speakers at this workshop will address these questions by examining Sanskrit, vernacular, and Indo-Muslim knowledge systems such as ayurveda, unani and jyotihsastra, tracing the changes produced in them once they were appropriated by western categories of knowledge.
The papers will focus on a variety of themes including the guru-shishya relationship in ayurveda, the philological activities of nineteenth-century editors of ayurvedic texts, the changes in the technical vocabulary of mathematical astronomy under colonialism and the geographical imagination of eighteenth-century Orientalism in India. The workshop will also include a session in which speakers will introduce and discuss primary sources in the South Asian languages used by them.
The main aims of the workshop are: identifying pre-colonial forms of thought considered systematic knowledge/science; tracing their careers in the colonial world; and charting the new scientific knowledge forms and the practices associated with them that colonialism engendered.

Speakers include:
Seema Alavi, University of Delhi
Anthony Cerulli, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Pratik Chakrabarti, University of Manchester
Projit Bihari Mukharji, University of Pennsylvania
Cristina Pecchia, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Kim Plofker, Union College, Schenectady
Joydeep Sen, University of Manchester
D. Senthil Babu, French Institute, Pondicherry
Diana Lange, Humboldt University

With best wishes,
Minakshi Menon
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

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