Settler Colonialism and Postcolonialism in the History of Science and Technology


Tess Lanzarotta

University of Toronto

Marco Ramos

Yale University


Suman Seth

Cornell University


Session Abstract

In recent years, historians of science and technology have engaged productively with theories and methods drawn from postcolonial and Indigenous studies. Postcolonial approaches have helped to provincialize the ""universality"" of Western reason and have situated postcolonial spaces in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as critical sites for the creation of modernities, knowledges, and technologies. Indigenous studies scholarship has revealed how science in settler colonial societies, especially in North America and Australia, has figured in the elimination of Indigenous peoples. By exploring ways of knowing about and relating to more than human worlds, Indigenous studies approaches have challenged the epistemic, racial, and political organization of the academy itself. History of science and technology, in turn, has brought a materiality and specificity to disciplines that were traditionally more textual and literary.

However, for all they share in their challenges to traditional histories of science, postcolonial and Indigenous approaches have only rarely entered into conversation with each other. This roundtable explores this missed encounter between postcolonial and Indigenous approaches to the study of science and technology. What can these approaches learn from each other? Have they already met in unexpected places? Or are there important historical and ethical reasons for framing these strands of thought as different and discrete? Presenters active in postcolonial and Indigenous studies will present on projects, predicaments, and provocations at the boundary between the settler and post-colonies, after which the floor will be open for discussion of the opportunities and risks involved with bringing these analytical perspectives to bear on topics at their intersection.

Presenter 1

Tess Lanzarotta

University of Toronto

Presenter 2

Ashanti Shih

University of Southern California

Presenter 3

Rosanna Dent

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Presenter 4

Marco Ramos

Yale University

Presenter 5

Sebastián Gil-Riaño

University of Pennsylvania