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The chemistry of a Bengali life : Acharya/ Sir Prafulla Chandra Ray in his times and places

Die Chemie eines bengalischen Lebens: die Biographie von Acharya/Sir Prafulla Chandra Ray
[conference paper]

Zachariah, Benjamin

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Corporate Editor Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS)
Abstract "Scientist, nationalist, educationist, Bengali bhadralok, intellectual, entrepreneur, public figure, sometime Gandhian, almost-politician - perhaps all these describe Prafulla Chandra Ray at various stages of his life. He was a chemist of some importance on an international stage, and a major influence on the scientific fraternity in India - ingiving them a legitimate voice as Indian scientists, and in giving them the confidenceto practice in a less unequal environment. He was a major participant in debates on Indian nationalism from the late nineteenth century to independence, and of the place of science within it. He linked debates on the philosophy of science and of its validity for India in the late nineteenth century to those on the justification of 'development' in the 1940s. PC Ray crops up in all these debates, but in a fragmented manner - and in writing about the debates, each specialist field culls from Ray what it finds of its own particular concerns. As a result we get what we might call fragments of PC Ray. Matters are not made simpler by the fact that Ray, once he had been anointed as a public figure, was called upon by his followers to make public pronouncements on awide range of issues, some of which he did not altogether understand and about which he would have done better not to speak. The question which might be asked, in piecing together the fragments of Ray, is whether the fragments held together at all, and if so, how. This paper, therefore, is an attempt at an intellectual history of PC Ray. But it is also more than that: it may be possible to use Ray’s life as a stalking horse, as it were, to raise wider questions regarding his times. Ray's importance as a public figure over several decades, and as one whose pronouncements on various social, political and cultural matters were taken extremely seriously by a wide audience needs to be considered in the light of thelegitimating importance of the category 'science' and its imagined role in a (post)colonial society." (author's abstract)
Keywords India; Hinduism; politician; biography; scientist; chemistry; chemist; nationalism; political independence; political history; ethnic origin; national identity; colonialism; colonization; Great Britain; South Asia; developing country; Asia
Classification Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Political Science; General History
Method descriptive study; historical
Collection Title Soziale Ungleichheit, kulturelle Unterschiede: Verhandlungen des 32. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in München. Teilbd. 1 und 2
Editor Rehberg, Karl-Siegbert
Conference 32. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie "Soziale Ungleichheit - kulturelle Unterschiede". München, 2004
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Publisher Campus Verl.
City Frankfurt am Main
Page/Pages p. 4316-4332
ISBN 3-593-37887-6
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications