CosmoLocal partners Lesley Cormack (University of Alberta, Canada), Gordon McOuat (University of King’s College, Halifax, Canada), and Dhruv Raina (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) organized a symposium “Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature” as part of the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology. The conference was held July 23-29, 2017, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The abstract of the CosmoLocal symposium is below, and a pdf version can be found here.
Science, and its associated technologies, is typically viewed as “universal”. At the same time we were also assured that science can trace its genealogy to Europe in a period of rising European intellectual and imperial global force, ‘going outwards’ towards the periphery. As such, it is strikingly parochial. In a kind of sad irony, the ‘subaltern’ was left to retell that tale as one of centre-universalism dominating a traditionalist periphery. Self-described ‘modernity’ and ‘the west’ (two intertwined concepts of recent and mutually self-supporting origin) have erased much of the local engagement and as such represent science as emerging sui generis, moving in one direction. This story is now being challenged within sociology, political theory and history.
History of science has opened possibilities for the critique by exploring the local, material cultures and translations as a way of moving knowledge about. Significantly, scholars who study the history of science in Asia and India have been examining different trajectories for the origin and meaning of science. It is now time for a dialogue between these approaches. Grounding the dialogue is the notion of a “cosmopolitical” science. “Cosmopolitics” is a term borrowed from Kant’s notion of perpetual peace and modern civil society, imagining shared political, moral and economic spaces within which trade, politics and reason get conducted. This symposium will allow us to deepen an international dialogue in order to study this important notion of ‘cosmopolitanism’ and its mulitvocal encounters, situating it in the histories and structure of globalized exchange. This two-part symposium addresses the sites of “cosmopolitanism” and their relation to the local, critically examining the notion of “cosmopolitan science” and what it might bring to the understanding of the movement of knowledge.