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Seminar: Metatheories of Knowledge and its Circulation between South-Asia and Europe
Dear All,

this is a seminar announcement for the course of Prof. Dhruv Raina, the appointed chairholder of the "Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History". Prof. Raina has just arrived and offers his course starting from May 21st with the title: Metatheories of Knowledge and its Circulation between South-Asia and Europe: Concepts, Theories, and Models. Find more details below.

Metatheories of Knowledge and its Circulation between South-Asia and Europe: Concepts, Theories, and Models.
Conducted by: Prof. Dhruv Raina (JNU, New Delhi and Chairholder of Heinrich-Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History)
Open for: Students at MA-level in particular from South Asia Institute, Philosophical Seminar and Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”.
When: Fridays, 10-12h, starting on May 21st 2010
Where: Karl Jaspers Centre, Gebäude 4400, Vossstraße 2, Room 112
Contact & Application:

Metatheories of Knowledge and its Circulation between South-Asia and Europe: Concepts, Theories, and Models

This seminar course explores the meta-theoretical frameworks underlying narratives of the circulation and transmission of knowledge between South-Asia and Europe. While emphasis shall be placed upon scientific knowledge, philosophical and other kinds of knowledge will also be the subject of the seminar readings. The course shall commence by surveying the variety of multicultural and postcolonial perspectives of the sciences commencing naturally with the standard accounts appearing in early Orientalist writings to more contemporary writings situated in modernisation and developmental theory. This would include a systematic exploration of models of osmotic transmission, colonial science and centre-periphery. Having framed the standard picture the readings will go on to explore the reverse commentaries commencing with the first accounts produced by South Asian scholars towards the end of the nineteenth century, and within similar interpretive frames,  continuing into the middle decades of the twentieth century: B. N.Seal (The Positive Sciences of the Hindus), Benoy Kumar Sarkar (The Hindu Achievements in the Exact Sciences), P.C. Ray (History of Hindu Chemistry), Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya (Lokayata; Science and Society in Ancient India); Abdur Rahman (Science and Society in Historical Perspective).
Other interpretive theories and models for studying the circulation of knowledge appear with the socialization of science from the 1970s onwards, commencing with the critiques of prevalent models premised on the idea of unattenuated osmosis. These would include those invoking ideas of cultural redefinition, neo-Gandhian readings that rejected the fact-value dichotomy and articulated a critique of Western civilisation and science (Ashis Nandy, J.P.S.Uberoi, Shiv Visvanathan). Initiated by different framings of “knowledge/power” the relationship between empire and knowledge of the colony is examined (Bernard Cohn,Chris Bayly, Zaheer Baber). This will be followed by a discussion of the variety of attempts to reframe the encounter in general terms (Gyan Prakash), in terms of studying concrete encounters in the sciences (Richard Grove, S.Irfan Habib, Christian Hartnack, Dhruv Raina, Kapil Raj) and re-visualising the encounter with Europe (Dipesh Chakrabarty). This raises the question of the different or possible multicultural or post-colonial perspectives of the circulation of scientific knowledge. The course will conclude with readings on the modes of translating Indian philosophy into the language of Western philosophy (Dayakrishna, B.M. Matilal and J.N.Mohanty) and the specific salience of Indian philosophy for the Western philosophical tradition (David Silberstein, and more recently Sundar Sarrukai). The seminar course would conclude with a discussion on transcultural history and the ways in which scholars working on transcultural histories have engaged with some key epistemic concepts.
For each of the seminars the students would be expected to have read 2-3 papers or 2 chapters of books to be provided by the course instructor.

Dhruv Raina is Professor of History of Science and Education at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is the first Chairholder of the Heinrich-Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History at Heidelberg University. He studied physics at Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and received his Ph.D. in the philosophy of science from Göteborg University. His research has focused upon the politics and cultures of scientific knowledge in South Asia. He has co edited Situating the History of Science: Dialogues with Joseph Needham (1999) and Social History of Sciences in Colonial India (2007). Images and Contexts: the Historiography of Science and Modernity (2003) was a collection of papers contextualizing science and its modernity in India. S.Irfan Habib and he co-authored Domesticating Modern Science (2004) which again addressed the encounter between modern science and the so called “traditional sciences” in colonial India. He has published papers on related subjects in journals of the history and philosophy of science, social studies of science and social and political history. Over the last couple of years he has been working on cultures of history and science policy in postcolonial South Asia, in addition to a decade long preoccupation with postcolonial theory of science and the historiography of Indian mathematics.

10 May 2010
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