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Seminar on History and Philosophy of Science

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
Cold War Geographies and the Making of the Indian Space Program
Asif Siddiqi, Eleanor Searle Visiting Professor of History, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Caltech,


In my talk, I hope to illuminate two processes of recent concern to historians of science and technology. The first is to contribute to and extend an ongoing conversation about the nature of 'global' science during the Cold War. My project is concerned particularly with the heuristic of the 'site' where knowledge produced depended on understandings of particular national contexts but whose networks were entangled in global scientific networks. My paper focuses, in particular, on Thumba, a remote fishing village in the southern Indian state of Kerala which became the nexus of a massive international program to explore the upper reaches of the atmosphere in the 1960s and 1970s. My second goal is to articulate what it meant for India—newly independent, non-aligned, and self-avowedly postcolonial--to produce 'national' science in a context where the universalism of modern science was also linked to Western ideas of 'progress.'

For more information, please contact Fran Tise by phone at 626-395-3609 or by email at [email protected].