E (Esha) Shah PhD

E (Esha) Shah PhD

Docent, Lecturer

I am a feminist scholar who believes in moral power of ideas to change the world. And that’s why I work with the knowledge institutions like University to be able to engage with the history of ideas, debate them, contest them and hold them close to my heart.  

Concerning my institutional I am currently working as a lecturer with WRM (80%) and KTI (20%) at Wageningen University. In the past I have worked with the IDS at University of Sussex and Maastricht University and held a position of fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla, India and at the Institut d'études avancées de Nantes, France.

I employ historical and anthropological methods in all my research. More recently, I am increasingly using sources from popular culture (films and fiction) and (auto)biographical life-writings for my research and teaching.  

My research interests mainly concern anthropology, history and philosophy of science and technology. My research has involved history and anthropology of  indigenous irrigation technology, social movements against large dams, contested knowledge on large dams, debates on social and risk appraisal of GMOs, and farmers’ suicides. Recent publications include an edited volume on contested knowledges on large dams discussing a number of case studies on the politics of conflicting knowledge paradigms and epistemological controversies surrounding mega-infrastructures and large dams. And a review of globalising environmental justice movements against large dams. 

Currently I am working on the way in which subjectivity (including emotions and affects) shape modes of political rationality, normativity, including objectivity in scientific knowledge. Who is the agentic self? How it is formed and how it is intertwined with the making of rationality (public, political or scientific)? What is science and how it is done and what is the role of subjectivity and inter-subjectivity in shaping objectivity? In short, I am working on understanding how science is emotional?

In 2018, I published a monograph Who is the Scientist-Subject? Affective History of the Gene. The book covers a century-long history of the concept of the gene as a series of “pioneering moments” through an engagement with life-writings of eminent scientists to show how their subjectivity shaped objective science. Other recent publications include The complexity of the gene and the precision of What is the gene that is being edited?

At Wageningen, I am involved with the debates on decolonising higher education, I am also one of the initiating members of the teacher’s collective on “deliberation on decolonization”.

My teaching portfolio includes courses on Gender and NRM, Political Ecology, Water Technology Society, Research Approaches, Emotions and NRM, Critical Perspectives on Social Theory. I am currently developing a course on Decolonial Science, Technology and Development in collaboration with colleagues from KTI.