Profile



Name: Dr. Renny Thomas
Designation: Assistant Professor
Research Area: Science & Technology Studies (STS), Sociology of Religion, and Social History of Science
Department: Humanities and Social Sciences
E-Mail: renny[AT]iiserb.ac.in
Phone: +91 755 269 2715


Academic Details

  • Assistant Professor (Sociology & Social Anthropology), Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IISER Bhopal, March 2021- Present.
  • Assistant Professor (Sociology & Social Anthropology), Department of Sociology, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, July 2015- March 2021.
  • PhD (Sociology), Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.
  • M. Phil (Science, Technology & Society Studies-Interdisciplinary), School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.
  • M. A (Sociology), University of Kerala, Trivandrum.

Fellowships and Awards

  • Charles Wallace Fellow in Social Anthropology, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK (2017-2018).
  • The Collaborative International Research Grant, American Academy of Religion, New York, USA (2015-2016).
  • Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) Doctoral Fellowship, 2013-2015.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund Doctoral Fellowship (JNMF), 2013-2014, Teen Murti Bhavan, New Delhi (declined).
  • University Grants Commission - Junior and Senior Research Fellowships (UGC-JRF/SRF) in Sociology (2008-2013).

Memberships in Professional Associations

  • Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).
  • History of Science Society (HSS), Notre Dame, USA.
  • International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society, University of Birmingham, UK.


Research

As an anthropologist, I spend time in scientific research institutions and laboratories studying laboratory life, science and religion, social justice, and the social history of science. I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork in leading scientific research institutions and laboratories in Bangalore, Delhi and Trivandrum. I supplement this approach with archival research on scientific method, scientific temper, and debates over Indian knowledge systems.

I am currently finalizing my book manuscript on science and religion in India, titled: Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment (under contract with Routledge, London). I am also completing a co-edited volume on Scientific Method for Routledge's Science & Technology Studies series (under contract).


Research Interests

  • Science & Technology Studies
  • Human-Animal Relations
  • Material Religion
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Science and Religion
  • Modernity and Social Theory
  • Social History of Science and Scientific Thought
  • History of Anthropology/Sociology
  • Anthropology of Unbelief/Atheism
  • Literary Anthropology
  • Autobiographies and Memoirs
  • Anthropology and History of Technology
  • Knowledge and Social Justice

Research Supervision

Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi

  • 2021. Arnav Sethi, "Sensorily Speaking: Music and Mental Health as Cultural and Clinical Concern", M. Phil Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (Submitted, Advisor).
  • Deepak Ojha, "Internet Hinduism: A Study of Reframing of Rituals, Mythology, and Hindu History in the Digital Age", M. Phil Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (Ongoing, Supervisor).

Publications

Authors Title of Article Journal Year
Renny Thomas
Brahmins as Scientists and Science as Brahmins' Calling: Caste in an Indian Scientific Research Institute. Public Understanding of Science (Sage) 2020
Renny Thomas
Beyond Conflict and Complementarity: Science and Religion in Contemporary India. Science, Technology and Society (Sage) 2018
Renny Thomas
Robert M. Geraci
Religious Rites and Scientific Communities: Ayudha Puja as 'Culture' at the Indian Institute of Science. Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science (Wiley) 2018
Renny Thomas
Atheism and Unbelief among Indian Scientists: Towards an Anthropology of Atheism(s). Society and Culture in South Asia (Sage) 2017

Books

Authors Editors Title Publisher Year
Renny Thomas
- -
Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment (https://www.routledge.com/Science-and-Religion-in-India-Beyond-Disenchantment/Thomas/p/book/9781032073194) Routledge 2022
- -
- -
Renny Thomas
Gita Chadha
Mapping Scientific Method: Disciplinary Narrations (forthcoming, 2022, Routledge Science and Technology Studies Series) Routledge 2022


Book Chapters

Author Editors Title Publisher Year
Renny Thomas
Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse
Atheism in India: Twentieth Century and Beyond Cambridge University Press 2021
Renny Thomas
Deepak P. et al.
STS, Data Science, and Fake News: Questions and Challenges Springer 2021
Renny Thomas
Stephen Jones
Tom Kaden
Rebecca Catto
Rational Believers: Religion, Spirituality and Tradition among Indian Scientists. Bristol University Press 2019
Renny Thomas
Gita Chadha
Joseph M.T
Narratives in Feminist Sociology of Science: Contextualizing the Experience(s) of Women Scientists in India. Taylor & Francis 2018
Renny Thomas
Yiftach Fehige
Being Religious, Being Scientific: Science, Religion and Atheism in Contemporary India. Taylor & Francis 2016

IISER Bhopal

  • An Invitation to Science and Technology Studies.

Department of Sociology, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi (2015-2021)

  • Sociological Thinkers II.
  • Social Stratification.
  • Sociology of Religion.
  • Reading, Writing, and Reasoning for Sociology.
  • Religion and Society.
  • Rethinking Development.
  • Environmental Sociology.
  • Family and Intimacy.


Invited Talks (Selected)

  • "Scientists, Tools and Religious Rites: An Anthropology of Ayudha Puja", The London Public Understanding of Science Seminar (jointly organized by the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London, and LSE), at London School of Economics, London on 30th May 2018.
  • "Ritualising Technologies: On Ayudha Puja", Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, on 24th May 2018.
  • "Science, Scientific Method and Rationality: Nehru's Engagement with Ayurveda", Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, UK, 17th May 2018.
  • "Reading Ayudha Puja: Towards an Anthropology of Technology and Rituals", Anthropology Research Seminar Series, School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philosophy, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, 9th May 2018.
  • "Towards a Rational State: Science, Rationality, and Scientific Temper in Postcolonial India", 'India Public Lecture', Queens' University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, 24thApril 2018.
  • "Beyond Dualism: Anthropology of 'Science and Religion' in Contemporary India", jointly organized by the Departments of Religious Studies and Sociology ('Religion Matters' Lecture Series), Manhattan College, New York, USA, 13th October 2017.
  • "Ayudha Puja: On Machines, Rituals and Beliefs", Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, 9th October 2017.
  • "Atheism and Unbelief among Indian Scientists: Towards an Ethnography of Atheism(s)", Centre for Sociological Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Leuven, Belgium, 21st December 2016.

Invited Lectures: Conferences/Symposiums (Selected)

  • National Workshop "Engaging Science: Conversations Across Disciplines", Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER)-Mohali, Punjab, 7th to 9th November 2019.
  • International Symposium on Aesthetic Dimensions of Science: Beauty, Awe and Wonder in Scientific Inquiry, Department of Sociology, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C, USA, June 3-4, 2019.
  • Keynote Speaker, National Seminar on Science, Scientism and Human Agency, Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, 19th March 2019.
  • "Brahmins as Scientists and Science as Brahmins' Calling: Caste in an Indian Scientific Research Institute", Weekly Colloquium, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies (ZHCES), School of Social Sciences, JNU, 24th October 2018.
  • 'New Perspectives on Science and Religion in Society' Conference, Organised in partnership between by the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society, Newman University, UK; University of Kent, UK; York University, Canada, and Kent State University, USA, 29th June to 1st July 2017, held in Manchester, UK.
  • "On Machines, Rituals, and Religion", Public Lecture, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS-TIFR), Bangalore, 13th October 2016.
  • "Scientifically 'Religious' and Religiously 'Scientific': Ethnography of Science and Religion", Weekly Colloquium, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 28th Oct 2015.
  • "Being Religious, Being Scientific: Ethnography of Science, Religion and Atheism(s) in Contemporary India", Public Lecture, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), New Delhi, 30th March 2015.
  • "Being Religious, Being Scientific: Science, Religion and Atheism in Contemporary India", UCSIA Summer Seminar on Religion and Culture in a Globalizing World: Questioning Our Research Frames, 3-5th September 2014, University of Antwerp, Belgium.
  • "Religious and Scientific Imagination in India", UCSIA-International Summer School on Religion, Culture and Society, August 28th - September 4th, 2011, University of Antwerp, Belgium.
  • "Religion among Indian Scientists", at the "Dealing with Controversies" workshop with Bruno Latour", January 1-3, 2011, Department of Sociology and European Study Centre, University of Delhi.
  • "Changing Social Contract Between Science and Society: Exploring the Case of Biotechnology in India", at the International Workshop on 'The Role of Experts in Transnational Science and Health Care Policies', 5th April 2010, Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies (JNIAS), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.