Nov 26, 2021
Introduction: Indigenous Knowledges and Colonial Sciences in South Asia
- 16:00 to 17:30
- Max Planck Research Group (Premodern Sciences)
- Minakshi Menon
We will meet online on Friday 26 November 16:00-17:30 Berlin time to welcome Minakshi Menon (MPIWG) presenting her "Introduction: Indigenous Knowledges and Colonial Sciences in South Asia,” prefacing a similarly titled special issue of South Asian History and Culture journal.
What do we mean when we use the category “indigenous knowledges”? What do we mean when we speak of “colonial sciences”? This Introduction briefly examines these questions in order to provide a context for the collection of articles presented in this issue on the making of the sciences in colonial South Asia. In doing so, it also addresses related questions: The translation of terms—does the Sanskrit word śāstra correspond to the English science? If not, what does each word mean? And the differences that arise when categories move across disciplines—development studies scholars use the term indigenous knowledges for the knowledge-forms of the original inhabitants of a territory; historians of South Asia and historians of science use it to refer to older forms of knowledge lost to colonial rule.
The contributors represent very different disciplines—anthropology, history, history of science and philology; and bring a variety of methodological approaches to the questions they address. They cover a chronological span stretching from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, and address different subjects: the use of technical vocabulary in Sanskrit mathematical astronomy, astrology at universities in Banaras, the making of the Hindi Scientific Glossary, botanical knowledge-making in East India Company India, the philological practices of Vaidyas in Bengal, and Ayurvedic pedagogy in today’s Kerala. A common thread joining the essays appears in the role played by philology in practices as different as the naming of plants, the making of procedural medical knowledge in a gurukula, and the editing of Ayurvedic texts in the context of an expanding print culture in nineteenth-century Bengal.
- Glenn W. Most
- Maria Avxentevskaya
Contact and Registration
Please let us know if you would like to participate in the workshop, present your work at the workshop, suggest other materials, or invite external experts. If you have any questions, please contact Prof. Most at email@example.com and Maria Avxentevskaya at firstname.lastname@example.org.