Monday, July 11, 2016

International Conference on Cosmopolitanism in the History of Science

International Conference on Cosmopolitanism in the History of Science
Dates: 09-Aug-2016 to 10-Aug-2016
at Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India

Concept Note
As the world becomes "global", so too should its history - especially its history of science. Contemporary histories of knowledge have drawn our attention to the importance of multiple sources, communicative networks, and circulation of scientific knowledge in the making. This refocusing has come with a closer sensitivity to the multitudinal genealogies and movements of knowledge. It also presents us with a new set of general questions about doing local and global history of science.
Two years ago, the EHESS, Paris organized a workshop on "Cosmopolitanism in early Modern South Asia". The collection, as published in a special issue of the journal Purushartha, focused on specific case-studies of knowledge circulation and cosmopolitanism in South Asia, recognising the interpenetration of the local and the global. The idea of the workshop could now be pushed further to re-examine some of the concerns of social theory that are linked up with the history of science. This exploratory meeting will explore those re-examinations.
In unpacking "cosmopolitanism" in the history of science, such a re-examination would entail commencing with a categorical distinction between the "trans" -cultural or -national, or whatever meta-narrative one adopts to engage with our historical concerns, and the cosmopolitanism of objects, things, actors, texts etc - that we confront in our investigations; something which perhaps may not be in the reckoning of the historical actors concerned.
Further, it is equally important to understand how the politics of knowledge plays itself out in the contact zones between the little and high traditions. Playing fields are hardly ever level. For example some recent research reflects on itinerants medical practitioners from Korea who travelled to China and became the mediators between several medical traditions, while at the same time raising questions of their high professional status in Korea and a diminished one in China.  
Finally, beyond the debate on what cosmopolitanism means or when was cosmopolitanism, the frame of `cosmopolitan science' enables an engagement with the diversity of agents, objects and things constituting more than the material culture of science, transgressing the boundaries of national and civilizational history. In branding or labelling a tradition or school or practice as cosmopolitan the gesture is always towards an essential diversity, of a multitude of genealogies, objects and flows. The politics of cosmopolitan science urges further explorations of authority, privilege and cultural capital to be possessed by the practitioners of a cosmopolitan science.
This exploratory meeting could be reoriented towards a dialogue that will then flag a set of important issues for further research and problematise cosmopolitan science, rather than celebrate 'nous sommes toujours cosmopolite'.
Some of the central questions to be explored at the two days meeting are:
    What do we mean by cosmopolitan science?
    Does `cosmopolitan' serves as an actor or analytical category across historical time to navigate and negotiate between fundamental differences and diversity of the forms of knowledge and associated practices?
    What new interpretative latitude does cosmopolitan science have to offer? cosmopolitanism.
    How are strategies for negotiating differences developed, and how are concerns of science, state and identity resolved by the politics of cosmopolitanism.
    When precisely does a form of knowledge, a school or practice come to be labelled cosmopolitan?
The objective of this exploratory meeting is to bring together scholars studying narratives of a non-exclusivist history of science. The meeting will examine the issues, problems and materials involved in building a globalized history of science that is both sensitive to the "local" and open to trans-local exchanges, circulation and translation of knowledge.  By focusing on the concept of "cosmopolitanism", our aim is to explore new ways of narrating a non-hierarchical world history of science. In order to do so the meeting hopes to discuss the possibility of developing a long term collaborative research network bringing together researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and specialties.

Call for Papers
A limited number of participants will be invited for the Seminar. Those interested in participating should send an abstract (500-700 words) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to:
Professor Dhruv Raina, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science and Education, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067. | Honorary Director, Indian Council for Social Science Research. Northern Regional Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, Tel: (Univ): 011-2670 4418/2670 4416; +91-9910562068 (Mobile), Email:
Dr. Devender Sharma, Academic Resource Officer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla- 171005. Tel: 0177-2831385; +91-8988376808 (Mobile) Email :
The last date for submission of abstract (500-700 words) is 20 June 2016.  The Institute intends to send Invitation letters to selected participants by 30 June, 2016. It is the policy of the Institute to publish the proceedings of the seminars it organizes. Hence, all invited participants will be expected to submit complete papers (6000-10000 words), hitherto unpublished and original, with citations in place, along with a reference section, to the Academic Resource Officer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla – 171005 by 25 July, 2016.
The style sheet for the submission of papers may be downloaded from the IIAS website content/shss. The papers would need to be prepared accordingly.
IIAS, Shimla, will be glad to extend its hospitality during the Seminar period and is willing to reimburse, if required, rail or air travel expenses from the place of current residence in India, or the port of arrival in India, and back.

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