Coordinator: Dr. Sonali Raje
Coordinator: Prof. Jyotsna Vijapurkar
This presentation focuses on Homi Bhabha’s vision for the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research that Homi Bhabha built in 1945. The creation of this institution was Bhabha’s attempt to redefine the scientific institution basing his ideas on what he had witnessed at Cambridge and other institutions elsewhere.
Bhabha drew on an international scientific network that he was acquainted with to train Indian scientists. Outlining the complex relationship between internationalist aspirations and nationalist sentiment in institution-building practices, this presentation shows how the gap between vision and reality and the challenges of sustaining a climate of research often left many scientists feeling peripheral to the scientific work being done internationally. Besides, Bhabha’s excessive, and at times, exclusive confidence in the opinions of an international network sometimes had troubling consequences. This presentation explores the political and cultural implications of creating models that existed elsewhere by analysing and interpreting archival material and making visible the reasons a particular narrative becomes the preferred narrative when writing official institutional history.
Indira Chowdhury is Founder-Director of the Centre for Public History at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bengaluru. Formerly professor of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, she is also the founder of Archival Resources for Contemporary History (ARCH), Bengaluru, now known as ARCH@Srishti. She has a PhD in history from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and her book, The Frail Hero and Virile History (Delhi, OUP, 1998) won the Tagore prize in 2001. She was awarded the New India Fellowship to work on the manuscript of her recently published book titled Growing the Tree of Science: Homi Bhabha and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research(OUP: 2016). Indira is a founding member of the Oral History Association of India. She was President of the Oral History Association of India (2013-2016) and President of the International Oral History Association (2014-2016).