Jahnavi Phalkey

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2013/2014
discipline History of Science and Technology
Lecturer in History of Science and Technology, King's India Institute, King's College London.

Research project

Statistics, State, and Society in India, 1930-1960


The creation and stabilisation of authority, also of territorial states, by mobilising scientific knowledge, is an important question in the history of science, and we stand to gain a new perspective on these processes by studying India. Theodore Porter, a historian of statistics, has argued that the rise of quantification in social and economic investigation is not necessarily because of its success in the study of nature. On the contrary, he argues, quantification grows from "attempts to develop a strategy of impersonality in response to pressures from outside". Taking Porter's argument as a point of departure, I would like to map the "pressures" that contributed to creating the space, specifically for statistics, and more generally for objectivity and quantification, as obvious strategies to understand and explain the subcontinent.



Phalkey Jahnavi is lecturer in History of Science and Technology, King's India Institute, King's College London. She holds a Ph.D. in History of Science and Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.

Selected publications


Atomic State: Big Science in Twentieth Century India, Permanent Black Press, New Delhi, 2013.


'Introduction: Science, History and Modern India', Isis, vol. 104, June 2013, pp. 330-336.


'How May We Study Science and the State in Postcolonial India?', in B. Lightman, G. McOuat &L. Stewart (eds), The Circulation of Knowledge Between Britain, India and China: The Early-Modern World to the Twentieth Century, Brill, Leiden and Boston, 2013, pp. 263-284.


'Not only Smashing Atoms: Nuclear Physics at the University Science College, Calcutta, 1938-1948', in U. Dasgupta (ed.), Science and Modern India: An Institutional History c. 1784-1947, Pearson Education, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 1057-1094.


'Right-wing Mobilization of Women in India: Hindutva's Willing Performers', in H. Afshar and S.  Barrientos (eds), Women, Globalization and Fragmentation in the Developing World, Macmillan Press, London, 1999, pp. 38-53.               


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Biology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Humanities and Social Sciences
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Social Anthropology