- Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
Shiv Visvanathan


Shiv Visvanathan is senior fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. An anthropologist and Human Rights researcher his work has explored the question of alternatives as a dialogue between the West and India. Closely linked to his current work is the attempt to demystify the modern science and social knowledge as legitimising categories of organised violence and exploitation. His writings have explored the psychological, cultural and political relations of science; the growing control of society by technology; and linkages between scientific establishment and authoritarian structures of state.

His work on the aftermath of the Bhopal Gas disaster and his current position against the nuclear celebration in India and Pakistan are an extension of his search for alternatives to modern scientific, especially bio-environmental practices and theories, and dialogue of traditional knowledge systems of knowledge outside the mainstream of public sphere, leading to innovative ways of mutual learning. His latest publication Foul Play: Chronicles of Corruption 1947-1997 is an attempt to look at corruption as an impetus for state-building in India. He is currently working on the semiotics of the emerging Indian middle class in India and the relation between energy systems and justice.

  • 1994 - Senior Fellow, CSDS, 1994
  • 1985 - Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
  • 1983-85 - Visiting Fellow, Ford Foundation Faculty Expansion Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
  • 1982-85 - Committee for Cultural Choices and Global Futures, Delhi
  • 1980-82 - ICSSR Young Scientist Fellow, Department of Sociology, Delhi University
  • 1976-80 - Research Associate, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics
Membership /Other activities
  • Chairman, LOKAYAN, 1988-90
  • Editor, IUMDA Newsletter, 1990-93
  • Member, Editorial Board, Lokayan Bulletin, 1992-95
  • Member, Editorial Board, Alternatives, Delhi and Colorado, till 1997
  • Member, Advisory board, Studies in Science Technology and Society, Sage, Delhi
  • Member, Advisory Board, Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, 1994
  • Consultant, National Institute of Science, Technology and Development (NISTADS), Delhi, 1990-
  • Consultant, India Peace Centre, National Council of Churches, Nagpur, 1990-
  • Consultant, Business India, 1996-
  • Henry Luce Visiting Professor, Smith College, Massachusetts, 1992
  • Consultant and Visiting Faculty, Science and Liberal Arts Programme, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
  • Project Director (India), Values and Energy Project, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, New York
  • Consultant, TBWA Anthem Communications
  • An Exchange on "The Problem with Thinking Locally", Boston Review of Books, Vol. 23, No. 6, December-January 1999.
  • Confessions of a Local Yokel, Boston Review, Vol.23, No.6, December-January 1999.
  • The Disappearance of the Political, Seminar: India 1998, 473, January 1999.
  • The Great Indian Novel: The Lentin Report, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.XXXIV, January 30-February 5, 1999.
  • Phoenix, Journal of Post Colonial Studies, Vol.2, No.1, April 1999.
  • The Strange Quest of Joseph Needham, in Dhruv Raina and Irfan Habib (eds.), Situating the History of Science: Dialogues with Joseph Needham, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999.

  • 1998
  • (Ed.) Foul Play: Chronicles of Corruption in India 1947-1997, Bombay: Seminar Publications & Banyan Books, 1998.
  • "The Strange Quest of Joseph Needham", in Dhruv Raina and Irfan Habib (eds.), Dialogues with Joseph Needham (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • "Magus: Patrick Geddes and the City", India Magazine, January 1998.
  • "The Sadness of Cotton", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXIII, No.7, February 1998.
  • "A Celebration of Differene: Science and Democracy in India", Science, Vol. 280, No. 5360, April 3, 1998.
  • "Welcome to the Patriot games", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXIII, No.22, May 1998.
  • "Dateless Diary of an anti-Nuclear Academic", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.XXXIII, No.28, July 1998.
  • "Scenarios in search of a Bomb", Seminar, No.468, August 1998.
  • "The Philosopher of Obsolescence", Times of India, September 10, 1998.
  • "The Laboratory and the World: Conversations with C.V. Seshadri, Third C.V. Seshadri memorial Lecture", Madrss, September 17, 1998.
  • "Democracy, Plurality and the Indian University", in M. Cross. N. Cloete, et. al. (ed.), Diversity and Unity: The Role of Higher Education in Building Democracy, Maskew Miller Longman, 1998.
  • "The Tragedy of K.S. Krishnan; a sociological fable", Current Science, Vol. 75, No. 1, December 1998.
  • "Prelude to a Peace Movement", The Times of India --------- 1998

  • 1997
  • A Carnival for Science, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997
  • "May Day: An Agenda for Trade Unions", Seminar, January 1997, No.449.
  • "Gandhi Goes to NID", Seminar, May 1997, No.443.
  • "Technology as Fantasy", The Eye, Vol. 4, No.4, July-September 1997.
  • "Gujral’s Red Fort Doctrine", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.32, Issue 38, September 1997.
  • "Politics of Indonesian Forest Fires", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.41, Issue 41, September, 1997

  • 1996
  • "Footnotes to Vavilov: A Study in Genetic Diversity", in Frederique Apfel-Marglin and Steven Marglin (eds.), Decolonizing Knowledge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).
  • "Between Pilgrimage and Citizenship: The Possibilities of Self-restraint in Science", in Lawrence Surendra (ed.), Tell Them as Stories (Madras: Max Mueller Bhavan), 1996.
  • "Thinking About Elections", Seminar, April 1996, No.440.

  • 1995
  • "Deschooling Myself", in Dharma Kumar and Dilip Mukherjee (eds.), Remembering Delhi School (Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1995.
  • "From Dudhwa With Love (notes on a national park)", Seminar, (426), February 1995.
  • "Unravelling Rights", Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 2, No.2, December 1995, pp.109-159.

  • 1993
  • "The Autobiography as the Experiment", Seminar, (409), August 1993.

  • 1992
  • (With Susan Visvanathan), "The Question of Dialogue", Seminar, (395), June 1992.
  • "Reinventing Gandhi", IUMDA Newsletter, (5), 1992 (translated into Hindi, Tamil).

  • 1991
  • "Mrs Brundtland Lovely Non-Magical Cosmos", Lokayan Bulletin, 9(1), January-February 1991, also in Alternatives, 16(3), Summer 1991. Also published in New Horizons.
  • "House of Bamboo", IUMDA Newsletter, (4), 1991. Also published in Lokayan Bulletin, 9(5), 1991. Also, to be published in Dhruv Raina and Udipi Srinivas (eds.), Essays in Honour of A.K.N. Reddy.

  • 1990
  • "The Glasnost Spy", Alternatives, 15(1),Winter 1990. Also published in IUMDA Bulletin, (203), 1990.
  • "Mandal’s Mandala", Seminar (375), November. 1990. Also published in Lokayan Bulletin, 8(4-5), 1990.

  • 1989
  • (with Ashis Nandy), "Modern Medicine and Its Non-Modern Critics: A Study in Discourse", in Frederique Apfel-Marglin and Stephen Marglin (ed.), Dominating Knowledge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989).
  • (with Harsh Sethi), "Bhopal: A Report from the Future", Lokayan Bulletin, 7(3), 1989.
  • "The Symbolic Politics of Sam Pitroda", Seminar (354), 1989.

  • 1988
  • "Atomic Physics: The Career of an Imagination", Alternatives, 10(2), June 1984. Also published in Ashis Nandy (ed.) Science, Hegemony and Violence, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988).

  • 1987
  • "From the Annals of the Laboratory State", Alternatives,12(1), January 1987. Also published in Ashis Nandy (ed.), Science, Hegemony and Violence (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988). Also published in Lokayan Bulletin, 3(4-5), 1985 (translated from Finnish).
  • "Ancestors and Epigones: Environmentalism in India", Seminar (330), February 1987 (translated into Malayalam).
  • "The DUTA Strike: Notes from the Margin", Lokayan Bulletin, 5(6), 1987.
  • "Reflections on the Transfer of Technology: Notes on the New Panopticon", Lokayan Bulletin, 6(1-2).

  • 1986
  • "Bhopal the Imagination of a Disaster", Alternatives, 11(1), January 1986. Also published in Lokayan Bulletin, ARENA (Hong Kong).

  • 1985
  • Organizing for Science, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985.
  • (with R. Kothari), "Moving Beyond 1984", Seminar, (305), January 1985.

  • 1978
  • "From Laboratory to Industry: A Case Study in Transfer of Technology", Contributions to Indian Sociology, 2(1), 1977. Also published in Satish Saberwal (ed.), Process and Institution in Urban India (New Delhi: Vikas, 1978).
Projects Undertaken
  • "Science, Technology and Medicine in India". Sponsor: IDRC (Canada)
  • "The Bhopal Gas Disaster, A Study of the Aftermath". Sponsor: Holdeen Foundation (USA)
  • "An Information Unit on Militarization and Demilitarization in Asia". Sponsor: United Nations University
  • "Rethinking Security". Sponsor: Institute for Development Studies, Sussex
  • "A Centre for Mutual Learning (India)". Sponsor: UNU
  • "Chronicling Corruption 1947-1997". Sponsor: Business India Foundation
  • "Structure of Trial Procedures". Sponsor: Bureau of Police research and Development
  • "Environmental Values Relations". Sponsor: Carnegie Council of Ethics and International
  • "Democracy , Knowledge and Ethnicity". Sponsor: Ford Foundation
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Centro de Estudos Sociais MacArthur Foundation
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian