- Associate Professor in History of Science and Technology, IIT Madras, since 2015
- Lecturer in History of Science at the History of Science Unit, Department of Philosophy, University of Regensburg, Germany, 2007 – 2014
- Dr.Philos, History of Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, 2003
- Diploma in Physics, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany, 1996
Courses and Teaching Interests:
- History of science and technology
- Science and society
- Science and Technology in the 20th century
- Technology and Sustainable Development
- Historiography and methodology in history of science and technology
- Material culture and scientific practice
- History of the physcial sciences and engineering of the late 19th and 20th century
- Global history of science and technology
- History of scientific collections, research technology and scientific practice
- History of science education and technical training
- History of acoustics
- Objects of Understanding: Historical Perspectives on Material Artifacts and Practices in Science Education
Together with Peter Heering ( https://www.uni-flensburg.de/physik/wer-wir-sind/personen/prof-dr-peter-heering/). I organize the conference Objects of Understanding: Historical Perspectives on Material Artifacts and Practices in Science Education ( https://wissenschaftliche-sammlungen.de/de/termine/conference-objects-understanding-historical-perspectives-material-artefacts-and-practices-science-education) from 29 June to 3 July 2020 at the Europa-Universität Flensbug ( https://www.uni-flensburg.de/physik/oou/) in Germany.
- Instruments of Development
Indo-German Scientific Collaboration and Engineering Practices at IIT Madras. In this project I explore Indo-German scientific and technological collaboration during the Cold War by examining the history of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. IIT Madras was founded and set up between 1956 and 1974 with the assistance of the Federal Republic of (West) Germany during an evolving development discourse. The history of the Indian Institutes of Technology has so far been understood as the import of an MIT-type institution into post-independent Nehruvian India that facilitated outsourcing and the rise of the Indian IT industry. The history of IIT Madras, however, reveals a different and more complex story. As part of the Indo-German agreement, a number of German experts joined IIT Madras as professors for the initial years to set up laboratories and engineering curricula, to supervise students and research scholars, and to establish a corresponding research agenda. A first generation of Indian faculty in return received their training in Germany. German ideas and practices of engineering education and research are manifested and materialised in laboratory setups and large amounts of German scientific equipment.How did the German professors think Indian engineers should be trained? How did German conceptions correspond to viewpoints and expectations of their Indian counterparts? How did Indian students, faculty and others experience the first decades of Indo-German collaboration? How did ideas and practices of engineering education and research unfold and transform in the Indian, or we might rather say in the local Madras environment? I trace the first generation of German experts, laboratory equipment and practices at IIT Madras and place them within concepts and practices of science and engineering education and research.
- Setting up the Historical Archive of IIT Madras
As the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras turns 60 years old in 2019, historical files documenting teaching, research and administration, and the lives and activities of students, faculty and employees are in danger of disappearing and decaying if we do not act now. During a survey in 2017, conducted by Kumaran Sathasivam and myself, we found large amounts of archival material, much of it of great value for the history and heritage of IIT Madras as well as for the history of science and technology in general. Archival documents constitute a vital part of the heritage of IIT Madras and should be preserved and made accessible for historical research and the wider public. We envision the Historical Archive at IIT Madras not just as an administrative unit but as a vibrant hub that enrols a variety of academic fields and students in research and teaching projects.The inauguration of the Archive Project is scheduled as part of the 60th anniversary celebration if IIT Madras in 2019. In addition to the records of the central administration and the academic departments and centres, the IIT Madras Historical Archive will collect personal papers of professors and other key actors at IIT Madras. This will be done in collaboration with the oral history interviews that are already conducted by the IIT Madras Heritage Centre ( http://heritage.iitm.ac.in/). German archives hold large amounts of archival material related to the establishment of IIT Madras and the different stages of the Indo-German collaboration. The archive documents in Germany will complement the documents in the Historical Archive of IIT Madras.
- History, Pedagogy and Practice of Arts and Craft Knowledge in South IndiaThis project seeks to develop the rationale, methodology and network for a comprehensive collaborative research project on the history, pedagogy and practice of arts and craft knowledge in South India in the colonial and postcolonial period. I am currently working with two research scholars at the institute, Thamarai Selvan and Madhu Narajan, as well as with Senthil Babu ( http://www.ifpindia.org/senthil-babu-d) at the French Institute in Pondicherry.How do practitioners of arts and crafts make knowledge as they make things, work with different materials, and learn from each other in their workshops? How did these communities constitute themselves as knowledge practitioners in history and how have their practices changed over time, in relation to their craft, the social context they lived in and with the markets they produced for? How did work-embedded knowledge circulate within and among different occupations? Studies in the history of science and technology in India have often remained surveys of apparently long and continuous traditions through periods of glory and distress, but have rarely attempted a history of arts and craft as knowledge practices. We aim to go beyond the know-how to define history of arts and craft as knowledge, and ask for the know-why, a higher order reflection about practice. How does the place of work relate to distinct places of learning like the modern classroom? We would like to investigate practices of artisanal and craft occupations and their practitioners at work to see if such a distinction actually holds true in history. Working with proportions and ratios in wood, metal and stone implies not merely mechanical activity but a reflexive apparatus that allows for innovations. How do craft communities develop and incorporate new tools, objects and products for a changing social environment and market, along with new ways of training within workshops? This project hereby aims to study the practices of artisans and craft workers, historically, not in opposition to modern science and technology but to understand how the prism of practice informs us about both in their interrelation.