Statistical Citizens: Nationalism, Science and Postcolonial Public, India 1930-50
April 28, 2023 | 4:00PM - 6:00PM|
The event will take place in room 208N, Munk School, 1 Devonshire Place.
How did statistics become a public good in modern India? In this presentation, I trace the institutional history of statistics in 20th century India. Nationalist statisticians, on the one hand, advocated using disciplinary statistics to constitute a scientifically conscious, statistical-minded public. On the other, their work demonstrated how only a certain pedagogical training could result in using and understanding statistical reasoning and data. How did this dilemma between statistics as public knowledge and as a domain of expertise shape the kind of postcolonial public that nationalist statisticians envisioned? What notions of community and nationalism came to be envisioned following the dissemination of statistical thinking as a public form of reasoning? Historicizing the rise of statistical reasoning in colonial modernity will enable us to reflect on how statistical data came to be seen as objective and at the same time can be mobilized to exclude and discriminate against communities.
Sayori Ghoshal completed her PhD at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS), Columbia University, New York. At present, she is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science & Technology (IHPST), University of Toronto. She is working on her first monograph, “Calculated Identities: How Difference became Minority in Modern India”. Her work on contemporary politics of Hindu nationalism, and the intersection of religious, caste and racial differences have been published as journal articles in the 'Economic and Political Weekly' and 'History Compass' as well as an essay in an edited volume, 'Nation, Nationalism and the Public Sphere'. Her current research is funded by the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science & Technology (IHPST) and by the International Network for Research in Science and Belief in Society (INSBS), University of Birmingham.
Sponsor: Centre for South Asian Studies