• J. B. S. Haldane’s passage to India: reconfiguring science

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    • Keywords

       

      Haldane; statistics; variation; postcolonial knowledge; Mahalanobis.

    • Abstract

       

      In 1957, John Burdon Sanderson (JBS) Haldane (1892–1964), the world’s leading population geneticist, committed political radical and one of the three ‘founders’ of neo-Darwinian ‘Modern Synthesis’ of twentieth century biology (Sarkar 1995; Haldane 1932; Cain 2009; Smocovitis 1996), ostentatiously renounced both his British citizenship and his prestigious chair at University College London. In a decisively and very public anti-imperial gesture, ostensibly played out as a reaction to the Suez crisis (although his discontent was simmering for quite some time), Haldane, and his partner, geneticist Helen Spurway (1917–1977), turned their backs on Britain and set off to India to offer their considerable scientific prestige, their inexhaustible organisational abilities,along with their leading Journal of Genetics, behind the efforts to build a ‘modern’, democratic India emerging out of the ashes of colonial rule. Haldane’s support of independent India was a major triumph for the new state, itself in the midst of negotiating a fine balance between rapid modernization through science and technology and an postcolonial respect for traditional ‘non-Western’values. Although his time in India was short, Haldane’s few years in India were marked by a frenzied engagement with the new India, its science, its government and its culture (Rao 2013).

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  • Journal of Genetics | News

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