Instrumental Lives - an intimate biography of an Indian laboratory
(Routledge 2019) is an account of instrument making at the cutting edge
of contemporary science and technology in a modern Indian scientific
laboratory. For a period of roughly two-and-half decades, starting in
the late 1980s, a research group headed by CV Dharmadhikari in the
the physics department at the Savitribai Phule Pune University fabricated a
range of scanning tunnelling and scanning force microscopes including the
earliest such microscopes made in the country.
Not only were these instruments made entirely in-house, research
done using them was published in the world’s leading peer-reviewed
journals and students who made them went on to become a top-class
scientists in premier institutions.
The book uses qualitative research methods such as open-ended
interviews,historical analysis and laboratory ethnography to present
the micro-details of this instrument-making enterprise and locate
scientific research and innovation within the larger social, political
and cultural context. It also asks important questions of the dominant
narratives of innovation that remain fixated on quantitative metrics of
publishing, patenting and generating commerce.
The book is available at https://tinyurl.com/vp7o92c