Consortium for the History of Science Technology and Medicine: Working Group on Science in Early South Asia


Under the aegis of the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, a new working group on History of Science in Early South Asia is convening a series of monthly online meetings (Zoom) to read early Sanskrit scientific and medical literature with leading research scholars.

This group focuses on the kinds of research published in journals such as the Indian Journal of History of Science, the e-Journal of Indian Medicine: EJIM, Asian Medicine, and History of Science in South Asia. The working group brings together scholars who study the history of science in South Asia before about 1800 and as discoverable from literatures in Sanskrit and other indigenous Indian languages.

We take “South Asia” as an inclusive, non-political, socio-geographic term referring to the area from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, from Pakistan to Bangladesh, and of course India. Discussions on the influences of South Asian cultures beyond these borders is also welcome, for example Nepalese or Tibetan influences on China, Sri Lankan influences on the Maldives, or Indian influences in South-East Asia. We take “science” to be broadly conceived, and to include all forms of rigorous intellectual activity that adopt at least to some extent a quantitative and empirical approach, as in the German “die Wissenschaft,” that covers most forms of academic scholarship. Theoretical discussions of the meaning of “science” in the South Asian context are welcome.

The group will meet monthly during the 2020-2021 academic year and focus in the first instance on group readings of premodern scientific texts in early Indian languages, especially Sanskrit. We plan to begin with readings in South Asian medical and alchemical literatures.