Coordinator: Prof. Anwesh Mazumdar
Coordinator: Shri Mahesh Bamne
Coordinator: Dean's Office
This is to inform you that the Ph.D. synopsis seminar by Mr. Charudatta Navare is scheduled for Thursday, November 17, 2022, at 3 pm in a hybrid mode. The physical venue is room G1 in the Main Building at HBCSE and the Zoom link is
(or use Meeting ID: 964 3619 0106 / Passcode: 550310).
Dominance hierarchy as a hidden value in biology: A critical discourse analysis
Education researchers have analysed biology textbooks for their language and representations such as metaphors and diagrams from a conceptual lens. However, there isn’t sufficient research into unpacking these metaphors to understand their ideological implications for scientific knowledge and science education. In this thesis, I perform a critical discourse analysis of introductory biology textbooks as well as popular scientific illustrations to uncover the hidden ideologies in seemingly innocent scientific concepts. Using the two cases of cellular functioning and evolutionary history, I show how dominance hierarchies pervade descriptions of concepts at various levels of organisation. Dominance hierarchy ranks the components of natural systems from ‘higher ’ to ‘lower’ At the cellular level, the conceptual metaphor of ‘cell as a factory’ projects the societal inequalities onto the cell with the nucleus as the ‘control centre’ and the cytoplasm as the site of manual labour that ‘executes’ the ‘instructions’ received. On the ecological and evolutionary levels, the representation of the ecological pyramid organises the living world into a feudal hierarchy. The conceptual metaphor of the ‘ladder of life’, discarded explicitly but still manifesting subtly in many ways, establishes the mammals and then humans at the top of the evolutionary ‘ladder’. I will enumerate the strands of empirical research in biology that have countered the hierarchical projections at the cellular as well as evolutionary levels. Despite this research, textbook representations have continued projecting societal hierarchies onto nature. I, therefore, attempt to understand the allure of the hierarchical representations by tracing their historical and cultural roots and argue that their appeal could lie in their congruence with our theoretical frameworks, gender ideologies, and class caste and racial structures of our societies. I further discuss how scientific discourse, otherwise perceived as objective and value-neutral, can serve as a ‘Trojan horse’ for the ideology of dominance hierarchy.
All are welcome to attend.