Projit Mukharji

Wolf Humanities Center Penn Faculty Fellow

20172018 Forum on Afterlives

Projit Mukharji

Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

Projit Bihari Mukharji is an Associate Professor in History & Sociology of Science at Penn. He was educated in India and the UK and his work focuses on the history of knowledge-production in modern South Asia. Located within the Subaltern Studies tradition, Mukharji’s work grapples with issues of social exclusion and radical alterity as constitutive features of the histories of knowledge-making. His articles have appeared in journals such as the Comparative Studies in Society & History, Journal of Asian Studies, History of Science, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Social History of Medicine, Indian Economic & Social History Review and so forth. Mukharji is also the author of Nationalizing the Body (Anthem, 2009) and Doctoring Traditions (Chicago, 2016). Currently he is working on a history of ‘inheritance’ in twentieth-century South Asia that blends the histories of parapsychology, genetics and the law.

Reincarnating the Cold War: Researching Afterlives in Postcolonial India, c. 1950-80

There is a rich and growing historiography on Cold War science in general and a smaller body of work on Cold War science in South Asia. Much of it, however, is focused on themes such as genetics, space programs, and nuclear power. Such an emphasis derives more from contemporary interests than the historical realities of the Cold War. One of the more enigmatic aspects of Cold War scientific interests focused on parapsychology. But while parapsychology in the west was largely focused on research into telepathy, telekinesis, etc., parapsycho-logical research in India developed a pronounced emphasis on reincarnation or rebirth research. I will explore the political rationale and the intellectual basis of this voluminous research on reincarnation undertaken roughly between 1950 and 1980.