Domesticating Modern Science: A Social History of Science and Culture in Colonial India

Dhruv Raina & S. Irfan Habib



x+ 234 pages

8.5x 5.5 inches


Rs425 / $20

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The essays in this volume examine the cultural reception of modern science in late colonial India. They show how the first generation of Indian scientists responded to and creatively worked the theories and practices of modern science into their cultural idiom. The process of cultural legitimation of modern science is revealed through the debates surrounding these theories. The first set of essays deals with the encounter between the rationality of modern science and the exact sciences as portrayed by missionaries and British administrators, and so-called traditional ways of knowing. A second set of essays shifts the focus of attention to Calcutta between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century – when it virtually functioned as India’s scientific capital. The essays examine the reception of theories of science such as that of biological evolution and the rejection of social Darwinism. Further, a new set of concerns of scientific and technical education and the installation of modern scientific and technological research systems acquired central importance by the end of the nineteenth century. These concerns dovetailed with the thinking of the emerging nationalist movement, and the essays that discuss the larger Indian picture indicate how the scientific community enlisted the political elite into its vision, and how this very elite drew upon the nascent scientific community in the project of decolonization.

Dhruv Raina teaches at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

S. Irfan Habib is a scientist at the National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies, New Delhi.