Anna Mani lecture by Abha Sur: Extraordinary/Ordinary: R. Rajalakshmi’s Life in Science

The YouTube link for the livestream is:

Title: Extraordinary/Ordinary: R. Rajalakshmi’s Life in Science

Abstract: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” This prescient quote from Marx is doubly true for women as they rearrange their lives to meet the expectations of their fathers and husbands. For women scientists it often means making the most of the circumstances they find themselves in in order to do research. In this talk I will explore the ingenuity of R. Rajalakshmi in crafting a career in science.

Bio of Speaker: Abha Sur is a scientist turned historian of science. She received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Vanderbilt University and post-graduate training in the field of mutli-photon ionization spectroscopy at SUNY, Stony Brook and at Yale University. She has published several articles in chemistry. Her more recent research focuses on the history of modern science in India from a subaltern perspective. Her book “Dispersed Radiance: Caste, Gender, and Modern Science in India” examines the confluence of caste, nationalism, and gender in science and unpacks the colonial context in which science was organized. Abha Sur has been a fellow at the Bunting Institute at Harvard University and at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT. She is presently a lecturer in the Program in Women's and Gender Studies and a research associate in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.