E (Esha) Shah PhD

E (Esha) Shah PhD

Assistant Professor

I am an environmental engineer by training and a social scientist by professional choice. I employ anthropological and historical methods in all my research and am increasingly using sources from popular culture (films and fiction) and (auto)biographical life-writings for my research and teaching.

Since my Doctorate from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, I have held research and teaching positions in the discipline of STS (science and technology studies) at the University of Sussex in the UK and the Maastricht University in the Netherlands where I have taught courses on Science Technology and Development and Globalisation, Debates on Technological Controversies, Philosophy of Science, and Anthropology of Technology. In December 2015 I completed two years as a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla, India. And since June 2016 I hold a position of Adjunct professor with the National Institute of Advanced Study, Bangalore, India. I will also be a (residential) fellow with the Institut dEtudes Avancées de Nantes between October 2017 and June 2018.

Until recently my research interests are concerned with the history and anthropology of science and technology-led development in India on the divide of modernity and democracy. And, I have worked on topics related to anthropology and history of indigenous irrigation technology, social and risk appraisal of GMOs, and farmers suicides.

In the last 3-4 years, I am developing my research interests 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)? On this topic, I have recently completed a monograph (accepted by Routledge for the publication) on Who is the Science Subject?: Affective History of the Gene. The book contributes to the emerging debates in philosophy of science on what is science and how it is done and what is the role of subjectivity and intersubjectivity in shaping objectivity.

Since joining water resource management group in January 2017, I am developing my research interests on the role of subjectivity in shaping water democracies. At least for the next 3 years (if not more), I aim to look at the micro level life histories of agentic selves operating at various levels political activists of contested water democracies, members of hydraulic bureaucracies, members of water users associations, and irrigation engineers and hydraulic experts across different historical periods. My claim is that the micro-history of agentic selves can bring out different perspectives on the social, historical, and political change and could provide a powerful alternative to history of ideas treated purely as products of abstract thinking.