Science Across Regions in Asia

Please set your timezone at

Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to

Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • February 25, 2022

    Hasan Umut (PhD, McGill University), "The Confessional Turn in Early Modern Ottoman Cosmology" 
    Comments by Travis Zadeh (Yale University, Religious Studies)

  • January 28, 2022

    Nicole Barnes (Duke University), "On Soil and Sustainability, Or, Who Cares about Shit?"
    Comments by Gonçalo Santos (University of Coimbra) 

  • October 22, 2021

    Yang Li (Princeton University), "Antibiotics, Atomic Bomb, and the Nationalization of Scientific Expertise in Early Socialist China, 1949-1966"

  • May 21, 2021

    Workshop: Donald Opitz (DePaul) & Banu Subramaniam (Univerity of Massachusetts, Amherst)
    This week, Don Opitz and Banu Subramaniam have kindly shared with us their proposal for a compendium of primary sources, under contract with Routledge and in an early stage of development. Here's a note from the authors:

    The document we are sharing offers an overview of the project with virtually the same detail that the publisher considered prior to approving our contract. During the session, we also hope to pitch questions to the group to engage us in sharing insights on “doing” postcolonial science studies, specifically with respect to the challenges of identifying and accessing relevant sources, “narrating” those sources, and other closely-related methodological considerations. Our framing question is: “How can we retell narratives of colonial and postcolonial science and gender through critical engagement of primary sources? How might we rethink what counts as a source?”


  • April 23, 2021

    Workshop: Minakshi Menon (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
    Discussant: Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Cambridge)

    “What is Indian Spikenard?”
    “What is Indian Spikenard?”, asked the eighteenth-century orientalist, Sir William Jones, in a famous paper, published in Asiatick Researches, Volume II (1790). The question serves here as a point of entry into Jones’s method for creating culturally specific plant descriptions to help locate Indian plants in their Indian milieu, as a first step to identifying commercially valuable plants for the East India Company state.
    This paper discusses Jones’s philological method for establishing the jaṭāmāṁsī of the Sanskrit verse lexicon, the Amarakośa, and materia medica texts, as the “Spikenard of the Ancients”. Philology, for Jones, was of a piece with language study and ethnology, and undergirded by observational practices based on trained seeing, marking a continuity between his philological and botanical knowledge-making. The paper follows Jones through his textual and “ethnographic” explorations, as he creates both a Linnaean plant-object – Valeriana jatamansi Jones  – and a mode of plant description that encoded the “native” experience associated with a much-desired therapeutic commodity. The result was a botanical identification that forced the jaṭāmāṁsī to travel across epistemologies and manifest itself as an object of colonial natural history. In the words of the famous medic and botanist, William Roxburgh, whose research on the spikenard is also discussed here, Jones’s method achieved what “mere botany” with its focus on the technical arrangement of plants, could not do.

  • March 19, 2021

    Elise Burton, Genetic Crossroads: The Middle East and the Science of Human Heredity (Stanford University Press, 2021)
    Elena Aronova, Scientific History: Experiments in History and Politics from the Bolshevik Revolution to the End of the Cold War (University of Chicago Press, 2021)

  • February 12, 2021

    Workshop: Noa Nahmias (York University)
    Discussant: Grace Yen Shen (Fordham University) 

    ‘The world of science at your doorstep’: Universal and national visions in Popular Science magazine, 1933 - 1937. 
    This chapter asks how science popularizers in China in the 1930s addressed questions of science as universal and science for national strengthening. It does so by examining the magazine Popular Science (Kexue huabao 科學畫報) from 1933 to 1937, focusing on the magazine’s publishing infrastructure, its material aspects such as formatting and visuals, and its circulation. I posit that Popular Science contained competing narratives on what science meant for China. On the one hand, the publisher and editors produced a transnational imaginary of science, while on the other hand they were committed to creating a local version of modern science.  

  • January 15, 2021

    He Bian, Know Your Remedies: Pharmacy and Culture in Early Modern China (Princeton University Press, 2020) 
    Harun Kuçuk, Science without Leisure: Practical Naturalism in Istanbul, 1660-1732 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)

  • December 4, 2020

    Syllabus Workshop with Science beyond the West (Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania) 
    We'll begin the session with a quick outline of our plans for the rest of the year, following on from last month's introductory discussion. After some consultation, and regret that it's impossible to discuss all the books mentioned at that session, we as organisers are suggesting that for our January meeting, we discuss chapters from Bian He's Know Your Remedies and Harun Küçük's Science without Leisure, and in March we'll have a celebratory discussion of both Elise Burton's Genetic Crossroads and Elena Aronova's Scientific History. This selection ensures that we can support members' work and cover a range of chronologies and geographies.
    The main focus of Friday's session will be a syllabus workshop, put together with the generous help of the Science beyond the West Working Group, in which our group members have kindly volunteered to share syllabi on histories of science in Asia/non-western spaces (you should soon be able to download the materials for the seminar on the working group's web page under "Meetings"; Nir Shafir's syllabus includes a link to previous final projects, which you can find here:

    We'll first have a discussion about how to approach the task of writing a syllabus. What kinds of considerations are different depending on the context and audience, i.e. undergraduate survey vs graduate seminar? What kinds of factors should be considered in selecting a course title? In the readings, alongside the syllabi we've included two pieces that set out some relevant pedagogical issues, James Delbourgo's "The Knowing World" and Yulia Frumer's "What is and isn't in a Name": how are these authors' experiences useful for us? Then, we'll move to breakout groups for conversations about the syllabi to be workshopped. Please bear in mind that these syllabi represent works in progress, and do not circulate them beyond the group. 

  • November 13, 2020

    Hello and Welcome Back! 
    Introductions and recap. 
    Anderson, Warwick. "Decolonizing Histories in Theory and Practice: An Introduction." History and Theory 59, no. 3 (2020): 369-75.