Decolonizing the History of Science in Asia


Forum for the History of Science in Asia


Sigrid Schmalzer

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Minakshi Menon

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin


Minakshi Menon

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin


Session Abstract

What do we mean when we speak of decolonizing the history of science? Today, leading voices on decolonization come from the Indigenous studies community, some of whom have emphasized, following Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, that “decolonization is not a metaphor,” but rather about giving land back to those from whom it was stolen. Other scholars, however, expand the significance of decolonization to all subjugated cultures and express the need to "decolonize Western epistemologies" and "build decolonial epistemologies" (Mignolo). This "roundtable" will be organized as an open forum to take up the question of decolonizing science from the perspective of Asian history. What is the relationship between deterritorializaton and epistemological colonialism? How can changes in methodology introduced by postcolonial and/or decolonial thinkers inform the history of science in Asia? We invite all participants to reflect on what decolonization means to you as intellectual and political practice. The Co-Chairs of FHSAsia (Minakshi Menon and Sigrid Schmalzer) will each speak for ten minutes on the state-of-play in South Asian and East Asian studies regarding decolonizing the history of science. We will then open the floor for discussion among our members and the audience at large.