ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Abdus Salam: A Migrant Scientist in Post-imperial Times

Pakistan's Abdus Salam was the first professor of theoretical physics at Imperial College, London, and the director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics at Trieste for almost 30 years. This paper looks at the conditions that allowed Salam to emigrate and develop a successful career in Europe as both a scientist and a scientific diplomat. The combination of colonial networks and academic policies in British India, on the one hand, and the post-colonial intellectual milieu in certain British scientific circles after 1948, on the other, provided Salam with an opportunity that would have been virtually unthinkable for the previous generation of Indian scientists. As a Pakistani theoretical physicist in Britain, Salam became one of the most authoritative and influential advocates of science for third world development. Yet, in post-colonial Britain, being from a former colony also put certain limits on Salam's aspirations. Salam's diplomatic and political career as a United Nations officer resulted from his conviction that supranational institutions represented the only chance to overcome the kind of discrimination that marginalised third world scientists in the post-imperial era.

The Imperial College of Science and Technology is revealed as a late Victorian enterprise. Imperialism is now a term of abuse, but during the brief existence of the British Empire the benefits of civilisation, such as they are, were extended to vast areas ofthe world by British enterprise, largely dependent on British technology and British science. I say British science meaning in fact British scientists.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Or

To gain instant access to this article (download).


Pay
INR 59

(Readers in India)


Pay
$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.