Tathagat Bhatia

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20202021 Forum on Choice

Tathagat Bhatia

Science, Technology, and Society

CAS, 2021

Tathagat is a senior from Lucknow, India. He studies history of science and Russian, with interests in environmental history, post-colonial histories of South Asia and the global Cold War. As a Rising Waters Fellow at the Penn Program for Environmental Humanities, he wrote about the problem of lead in Philadelphia’s drinking water from an STS perspective. He is passionate about queer advocacy, and has been a Program Assistant at the Penn LGBT Center for three years, as well as volunteered at LGBTQ rights organizations in India and Russia. In non-pandemic times, he can be found riding the El to his favorite grocery stores in Northeast Philly. 

Development Dreams: Fertilizer Plants in Postcolonial India, 1947-84

This proposal requests support for a historical study of fertilizer plants not only as a technology that was critical to India’s post-independence industrialization, but as the articulation of eminently postcolonial aspirations for self-sufficiency and economic freedom during the Cold War and the rise of development politics. While the introduction of fertilizers and the ensuing “Green Revolution” have often been explored, the plants which manufactured them have received little attention. This project hopes to fill that gap by situating fertilizer plants in a broader discourse about development inflected by the geopolitics of aid, nascent environmentalism, and labor and anti-caste movements in India. Different actors—socialists and capitalists, lawmakers and activists, neoliberals and antiracists—looked to fertilizer plants in service of their own, often competing, development dreams.