Everyday Sciences in Southwest India
Everyday Sciences in Southwest India offers a new account of the history of science in precolonial South Asia. In a field dominated by religious studies and literary history where studies tend to focus on a single genre, Everyday Sciences provides a synthetic account of sciences in medieval and early modern South Asia. Introducing a novel archive of Sanskrit and vernacular language texts described as “everyday sciences,” the dissertation moves across languages and genres to tell a story of dramatic change in the content and scope of scholarship. The story begins in the eleventh century, when scholars working within the perilous world of court politics in South Asia began to collect recipes and compose texts about weather prediction, horticulture, bureaucratic mathematics, practical astrology, sexual life, and medicine for both humans and animals. They wrote in Sanskrit and vernacular languages about such wide-ranging everyday topics, and they related their explorations to the regions where they worked. Making a contribution to the growing field of the global history of science, Everyday Sciences provides an account of the transformations in scholarly life that occurred as a result of this turn to vernacular languages and local practices. The dissertation traces a series of disputes about the standards of debate, the proper role of a scholar, the ingredients used in medicine, the physiology of vision, the languages appropriate for sciences, the authority of texts, and the value of experience. Following these controversies, Everyday Sciences chronicles the contested rise of a new set of practical sciences that were conceptualized as local enterprises linked to particular places. The dissertation argues that a focus on everyday sciences in the non-modern non-West forces us to reassess how places outside – and even inside – Europe are brought into narratives of a global history of science.
1 Jan 2022 – 30 Nov 2022
PhD defended at
The University of Chicago, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations & Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Whitney Cox & Adrian Johns (co-chairs), Lorraine Daston & Gary Tubb
Art and Culture
Health and Medicine