ZHCES talk "Brahmin (men) as Scientists and Science as Brahmins' Calling: Caste in an Indian Scientific Research Institute" by Renny Thomas | 24th October
ZHCES Seminar Series
Brahmin (men) as Scientists and Science as Brahmins' Calling: Caste in an Indian Scientific Research Institute
Department of Sociology
Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi
About the Speaker: Renny Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. He was a Charles Wallace Fellow in Social Anthropology at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK (2017-2018). He is also a recipient of American Academy of Religion's Collaborative International Research Grant (2015-2016), New York, USA. His recent publications include, "Beyond Conflict and Complementarity: Science and Religion in Contemporary India. "Science, Technology and Society, 23(1):47-64 (2018), "Religious Rites and Scientific Communities: Ayudha Puja as 'Culture' at the Indian Institute of Science. "Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, 53(1): 95-122, (2018), "Narratives in Feminist Sociology of Science: Contextualizing the Experiences(s) of Women Scientists in India",in Gita Chadha and M.T Joseph (eds) Re-Imagining Sociology in India: Feminist Perspectives, London: Routledge (2018). He is currently working on a book manuscript based on his PhD work, tentatively titled, Scientifically Religious, Religiously Scientific: Science and Religion in Contemporary India.
Abstract: The domination of Brahmins and other upper castesgave a Brahmanical identity to science in India, as they were perceived to be the 'natural' inheritors of scientific practice due to their expertise in Hindu scriptures. This 'natural' knowledge of Brahmin scientists has been constantly reaffirmed in the name of merit by many renowned scientists and students during my fieldwork in Bangalore. Furthermore, merit and passion for doing science was reinscribed and calibrated to denote the alleged castelessness and objectivity of science, thereby obfuscating the deep hierarchies of caste and gender in the practice of science. This paper intends to explore how the deliberate silencing of socio-cultural identities shaped the imagination of science and scientific practice in India. It will use both ethnographic data and biographies of Indian scientists to talk about how they constructed their identities as casteless beings.