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Physical Anthropology between Berlin and India: the Circulation and Transformation of Knowledge on Human Variation by anthropologist Irawati Karvé

Thiago Pinto Barbosa

Knowledge about human difference and human variation has been scientifically produced and transformed through the circulation of scientists and objects in time and space. This PhD research project will focus on one key transnational flow of physical anthropological knowledge, namely the one between the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics (KWI-A) in Berlin-Dahlem and research institutions in India. An ethnography will be structured by two analytical steps: 1) a historical reconstruction of Indian anthropologist Irawati Karvé’s racialized knowledge production praxis, both during her research stay at the KWI-A (1928-1930) and at the University of Pune, India (1931-1970); and 2) an anthropological examination of current physical and biological anthropological knowledge production in scientific settings in India. Through the perspective of postcolonial science studies, the analysis will bring to the foreground the political and social entanglements of such scientific praxis. Hence, the project will contribute to a critical understanding of continuities and changes in the global production and circulation of knowledge on human diversity and categories of difference.