Sociology Seminar Series | Shiv Nadar University
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Sociology Seminar Series

In this seminar Dr. Saumya Malviya will present a paper on 'What is ‘Modern’ Mathematics?'. The link for the talk is: Click here to join the meeting 


Event Date: 
Thursday, November 12, 2020 -

Dr. Saumya Malviya is an Assistant Professor at the School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University. He completed his PhD from the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics on the topic, Metaphor and Metonymy in the Constitution of Mathematical Knowledge: An Ethnographic Exploration. He is currently working towards archaeology of modern mathematics and an ethnographic study of different institutional cultures of mathematics in India. He is also a poet and is deeply interested in exploring the links between the poetic and ethnographic. 


Seminar Abstract: 

Historians of mathematics have rightly pointed out that the heuristic advantage of the category of ‘modernism’ in mathematics must not be exaggerated. Although, it can be useful at times to see how different branches of mathematics got modernised at the same time when similar developments were taking place in the arts, no zeitgeist of the ‘modern’ can be drawn in mathematics. Taking this as a premise, this presentation will attempt, contrarily, to explore the persistence of the ‘modern’ in mathematics. Mathematics remains a quintessentially modern discipline because of the self—reflexive formalisation that characterises it. However, that is only one-half of the story. The ‘modern’ in mathematics, and there is no need to think of it in terms of an ‘ism’, can also be seen as having immense critical potential which constantly puts it in touch with the politics of life and society. This presentation will focus on recovering this critical potential by asking the question ‘What is Modern Mathematics?’, and letting it emerge in the process of answering it. By looking at certain key moments in the mathematics of the early 20th century an attempt will be made to bring to the light an underlying possibility of the ‘modern’ in mathematics, which the presenter contends, has mostly been neglected at the level of pedagogy and disciplinary institutionalisation. Lastly, it will be shown how the framework developed in this presentation could be used to ethnographically study the relationship between the ‘modern’ and the ‘contemporary’ in the case of mathematics.

Thursday 12, Nov 2020
06:45 PM - 08:45 PM