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Between the Yogi and the Commissar: Imagining De-Colonial Science in Postcolonial India, c. 1952–1977

Projit Bihari Mukharji, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Moderated by Victor Seow, Assistant Professor, Department of History of Science, Harvard University

For the generation of political leaders who took charge of the newly independent Indian state in 1947, the world seemed to ripen for renewal. They had brought a mighty empire to its knees, and now sought to build a new nation, where science would play a key role. But what was “science”? What ends should it pursue? And how did its work relate to that of statecraft? These were some of the questions they explored.

Most of the scholarship on science in the newly independent Indian republic has focused on “Nehruvian science.” But Nehru was far from being the only influential postcolonial politician to be interested in science and its role in nation-building. This talk will explore a very different set of engagements between science, postcolonial statecraft, and the quest for a de-colonial future through the history of parapsychology in northern India.

This event is sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center and co-sponsored by the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute.