Contents - Next

This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at


This set of essays, the first in a series of three volumes, has grown out of the collaborative efforts of a group of scholars who have individually been interested in the problems of science and culture for over a decade. They were brought together by a three-year study of science and violence, which in turn was part of a larger Programme on Peace and Global Transformation of the United Nations University. We are grateful to the directors of the programme, Rajni Kothari and Giri Deshingkar, and to the United Nations University for this opportunity to explore jointly, on an experimental basis, a particularly amorphous intellectual problem from outside the formal boundaries of professional philosophy, history and sociology of science. It is in the nature of such an enterprise for intellectual controversies to erupt at virtually every step, and the authors of the volume are particularly grateful for the collaboration of scholars and organizations which hold very different positions on the issues covered in this volume. However, it goes without saying that the views expressed and the analysis presented in the following pages are solely those of the authors. That these views are often strongly expressed only goes to show that the United Nations University is tolerant not only of dissenting ideologies but also of diverse styles of articulating them.

The volume has also gained immensely from detailed comments and criticisms from a number of scholars, writers, editors and science activists. We remember with much gratitude the contributions of Giri Deshingkar, in his incarnation as a student of Chinese science, Edward Goldsmith, Ward Morehouse, M. P. Sinha, Girdhar Rathi, Norma Alvares and Punam Zutshi.

A number of distinguished scholars participated in the formal and informal meetings arranged by us, and commented upon earlier drafts of some of these papers. We are especially grateful to the following for their many helpful suggestions: A. Rahman, T. G. Vaidyanathan, R. Rajaraman, V. Balaji, Sundar Ramchandran, P. R. K. Rao, J. P. S. Uberoi, M. D. Srinivas, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Dharampal, Jayanta Bandopadhyay, Dhirendra Sharma, Narendra Mehrotra, Ranen Das, Sugata Mitra, Rajni Kothari, Sunil Sahasrabudhey, Paulos M. Gregorios, Narendra Punjwani, Meera Nanda, Tejinder Walia, Meera Shiva and Savyasaachi. Valuable administrative support was provided by S. Saran and Tejinder Walia, and secretarial support by Anil and Bhuvan Chandra.

A project such as this depends as much on the living intellectual traditions outside the academia as on earlier academic work. It would be unjust not to make at least a passing reference to the traditions of intellectual understanding kept alive in South Asia by those nameless groups and communities who have dared to defy conventional, agreed-upon categories of the knowledge industry, and encouraged us to argue our case in such detail.

Delhi 1988

Contents - Next