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Prafulla Chandra Ray and Marcelin Berthelot: Chemist-Historians

Dhruv Raina

in Images and Contexts

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780198068808
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080113 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198068808.003.0003
Prafulla Chandra Ray and Marcelin Berthelot: Chemist-Historians

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This essay explores the link between historical consciousness and politics in Prafulla Chandra Ray's project. It probes the corpus of work and activity of Ray, considered by many to be the founder of the tradition of modern chemistry in India. First, it ideologically situates Ray within his political context. It then presents a socio-epistemological reading of the dialogue Ray instated between the system of modern chemistry and the Indian system of alchemy. It also discusses science and nationalism, the beginnings of the social history of science in India, the contributions of French chemist Marcelin Berthelot to chemistry in India, Ray's encounter with Berthelot, the conjuncture of science and history, and Ray's chemical researches including his research on mercury and heavy metals.

Keywords: Prafulla Chandra Ray; Marcelin Berthelot; India; social history; science; nationalism; politics; modern chemistry; alchemy

Chapter.  13628 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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