History of Science in Asia: Decolonizing the History of Science
This group engages questions regarding the deconstruction of imperial visions and definitions of the sciences in Asia, and explores how new work can contribute to the diversification of perspectives in the history of science.
To join this working group, click "Request group membership" at right. You will receive instructions for participating online or in person.
Mary Augusta Brazelton
Mary Brazelton is a University Lecturer in Global Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Cambridge. Her research interests lie broadly in historical intersections of clinical medicine, the life sciences and public health, in China and around the world.
Elise Burton holds a Junior Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge (Newnham College). She earned a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, in two subjects, biology and Middle Eastern studies. In 2017, she completed her Ph.D. in History & Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. Her primary research interests are race, ethnicity, and nationalism; the history of genetics and evolutionary biology; and transnational scientific collaboration. Her first book, Genetic Crossroads: Scientists and Nationalism in the Middle East, is under contract with Stanford University Press.
Shireen Hamza is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University’s Department of the History of Science. With the support of the SSRC-IDRF, she is researching a dissertation about the history of medicine in the medieval Indian Ocean World.
Charu Singh is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Cambridge, where she holds the Adrian Research Fellowship at Darwin College. She researches the languages, practices and publics of science in modern South Asia.
Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Introduction: Asia and Decolonization as Method
Session moderated by Fa-ti Fan (SUNY Binghamton)
Discussion led by Mary Augusta Brazelton, Elise Burton, Shireen Hamza and Charu Singh
This working group aims to bring together historians of science working on Asia, broadly conceived to include not only East and South Asia but also West Asia (i.e. the Middle East), Central Asia and Siberia, to discuss research in progress as well as pressing issues of methodology and pedagogy in our discipline. Our thematic focus this year is how our field can contribute to calls for decolonization in scholarship and teaching.
At this introductory session, we will introduce the convenors and goals of the working group, and then host an open discussion centered around three broad topics:
1) the concept of "Asia as method";
2) the concept of "decolonization" and what it means for our field; and
3) the current hegemonic languages and geographies for studying science in Asia, and how we might challenge these hegemonies.
For scholars who are new to these topics or would like a refresher on the recent literature, we are providing the following readings in a downloadable zip file (see "Readings" tab at the upper right side of this webpage). Please feel free to review any subset of this selection, or other relevant writings, to bring up in our discussion.
Asia as Method:
Anderson, Warwick. "Asia as method in science and technology studies." East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal 6, no. 4 (2012): 445-451.
Fan, Fa-ti. "Modernity, region, and technoscience: One small cheer for Asia as method." Cultural sociology 10, no. 3 (2016): 352-368.
Kumar, Prakash, Projit Bihari Mukharji, and Amit Prasad. "Decolonizing Science in Asia." Verge: Studies in Global Asias 4, no. 1 (2018): 24-43.
Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. "Decolonization is not a metaphor." Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society 1, no. 1 (2012). This is a longer reading, and our discussion can focus on the sections on p. 1-7, 17-23, 29.
See also: Rohan Deb Roy, “Decolonise science – time to end another imperial era.” The Conversation, April 5, 2018:
Optional supplementary reading: 2018 special section from EASTS journal on Southeast Asia:
Anderson, Warwick. "Thickening Transregionalism: Historical Formations of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Southeast Asia." East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal 12, no. 4 (2018): 503-518.
Fischer, Michael MJ. "Theorizing STS from Asia—Toward an STS Multiscale Bioecology Framework: A Blurred Genre Manifesto/Agenda for an Emergent Field." East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal 12, no. 4 (2018): 519-540.
Duara, Prasenjit. "Time and Tide Wait for No Man: A Response to Warwick Anderson and Michael MJ Fischer." East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal 12, no. 4 (2018): 541-547.
Friday, December 13, 2019 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Decolonization and the History of Science in East Asia
Friday, January 31, 2020 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Decolonial Methods in Premodern History of Science
Friday, February 21, 2020 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Friday, March 27, 2020 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Geographies of Knowledge in South Asia
Friday, May 1, 2020 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Power in Scientific Working Relationships