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

  • Fellow, International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR).
  • Visiting Fellow, Department of Cultural Anthropology/Cultural History, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany (2022-2023).
  • 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.

Professional Service


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 the author of Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment (London:Routledge, 2021) and co-editor of Mapping Scientific Method: Disciplinary Narrations (London: Routledge, 2022).


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 Humanities and Social Sciences, IISER Bhopal

  • K J Ananthapadmanabhan, “Balagokulam: An Ethnographic Inquiry” (PhD candidate, year of registration: 2022).
  • Dipak Kr Chakraborty, “The State, the Scientists and the Public Perception: Revisiting Space Programme in Postcolonial India: 1960-1990 (PhD candidate, year of registration: 2022).
  • Shajeem Muhammed Fazal, "Ethics and the Everyday in Anthropology'' ( PhD candidate, year of registration: 2023).

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

  • 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 ( Awarded in 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 (Awarded in 2021, role: Advisor).

Publications

Authors Title of Article Journal Year
Renny Thomas
Anne Dippel
Conjugated Universalities in Sciences: Ethnographic Engagements (forthcoming) Zeitschrift fr Ethnologie (ZfE) / Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology (JSCA) (Berlin) 2024
Renny Thomas
Hinduism and Science (forthcoming) Oxford Bibliographies 2024
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
Towards a Postcolonial Sociology?: A Conversation with Ari Sitas Transcience (Humboldt University, Berlin) 2019
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
Sasanka Perera
--- ---
Decolonial Keywords (under contract) Bloomsbury 2024
Gita Chadha
Renny Thomas
Gita Chadha
Renny Thomas
Mapping Scientific Method: Disciplinary Narrations (Routledge Science and Technology Studies Series) Routledge 2022
Renny Thomas
- -
Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment (Hardback: 2021, Paperback: 2023, Special Indian edition: 2023) Routledge 2021


Book Chapters

Author Editors Title Publisher Year
Renny Thomas
Farhana Ibrahim
'Religion, Religious, and Beliefs' (forthcoming) Oxford University Press 2024
Renny Thomas
Gita Chadha
Gita Chadha
Renny Thomas
Method-o-logical Diversity: Seeking Disciplinary Narrations Routledge 2022
Renny Thomas
Gita Chadha
Ram Ramaswamy
Gita Chadha
Renny Thomas
Chemistry, Method, Science, and Society: A Conversation Routledge 2022
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. Routledge 2018
Renny Thomas
Yiftach Fehige
Being Religious, Being Scientific: Science, Religion and Atheism in Contemporary India. Routledge 2016

IISER Bhopal

  • An Invitation to Science and Technology Studies.
  • Anthropology of Magic, Science and Religion.

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.

Book Reviews (Selected)

  • 2021. Quantum Physics and Colonialism (review of The Making of Modern Physics in Colonial India by Somaditya Banerjee), Physics Today, 74 (4):53-54.
  • 2019. Animal Ethos: The Morality of Human-Animal Encounters in Experimental Lab Science by Lesley A. Sharp, American Ethnologist, 46(4): 536-537.
  • 2019. Science and Religion: An Impossible Dialogue by Yves Gingras, The British Journal for the History of Science, 52 (2):363-364.
  • 2018. Being Godless: Ethnographies of Atheism and Non-Religion by Ruy Blanes and Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 24 (4): 858-859.
  • 2018. Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs: Life and Times of a Sociologist by T. K. Oommen, IIC Quarterly, 45(1):165-168.
  • 2015. Trauma: A Social Theory by Jeffrey Alexander, Society and Culture in South Asia, 1(1):102- 106.
  • 2014. Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma and Design by C. Mackenzie Brown, Sociology of Religion, 75 (1): 164-165.
  • 2014. Playing the Nation Game: The Ambiguities of Nationalism in India by Benjamin Zachariah, Seminar, 657.


Invited Talks (Selected)

  • Colloquium, "Culture, 'Cultural', and Religious: An Anthropology of Science and Religion in India." The Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences: Multiple Secularities Research Group, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany, 19th July 2023.
  • Invited Lecture, "Studying the 'Culture' of Sciences: On Laboratory Ethnography", University College Freiburg (UCF), University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany, 6th July 2023.
  • "The Scientific-Spiritual World(s): On Science, Religion, and Rationality in India", Science and Technology in Asia Seminar Series, Department of History of Science, Harvard University, USA, 28th February, 2023.
  • "Science, STS, and the Possible Conversations", Department of Sociology, Shiv Nadar University, NCR-Delhi, 20th October 2022 (with Amber Habib).
  • "Science, Religion and Caste", Social Justice Seminar Series, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar, Gujarat,16th September 2022.
  • “Science/Caste/Gender: Ethnography of the ‘Social’” , Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU), Munich, Germany, 15th July 2022.
  • “Caste, Religion, and the Laboratory Life”, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), Berlin, Germany, 7th July 2022.
  • Panel Discussion on ‘Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment’, Centre for Religion, Conflict and Globalisation and the Institute of Indian Studies, University of Groningen, Netherlands, 14th June 2022 ( Panelists: Prof. Kocku von Stuckrad, Dr. Elena Mucciarelli, and Dr. Renny Thomas).
  • Book Talk, Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Cultural History, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany, 2nd June 2022.
  • “Beyond Disenchantment: An Anthropology of Science and Religion in India”, Max Weber Kolleg, University of Erfurt, Germany, 23rd May 2022.
  • "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)

  • "Science, Religion, and the Institutionalisation of Medical Education in Postcolonial India", Conference: Between Democracy and Progress?: Development, Nation Building and Education in Early Post-Colonial India (1930-1964), Humboldt University Berlin,Germany, 26th-28th October 2023.
  • Workshop on Science, Technology and Nationalism, Universite Paris Cite, Paris, France, 12th to 13th June, 2023.
  • Workshop: 'What's with the Matter?: On Science and Universality', Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany, 15th to 16th May 2023.
  • Workshop on Science, Humanism and the Making of Modern India, Botanical Survey of India-India Museum, Kolkata, organised by Sussex University, UK, Kolkata, 9-10 January 2023.
  • Workshop on 'Science, Technology, and Democracy', Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, 8-9 December 2022.
  • Workshop: Future Environments, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany, 10th June 2022 (Discussant).
  • Panel: Science, Technology and Modernizing States in South Asia, Annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), 18-21 November 2021 (online).
  • Panel: Caste as/of Technoscience, Annual meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), 6-9 October 2021 (online) (Discussant).
  • Workshop on ‘Science, Belief and Society’, University of Birmingham, UK, 16th April 2021 (online).
  • 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.