#TCOO (The Confluence Of Opposites, July 06, 2019):

Are you neutral? Is neutral inert? Do you practice hypocrisy? What does it mean to be (an) opposite? Are capitalism and socialism always incompatible? Do opposites always attract (even in natural systems) – why not? How might opposites be brought together? Are (certain) paradoxes culturally contingent? Can the cultural be told apart from the religious? Where did the very notion of religion emerge from? Does every enzyme always have a precise lock-key relationship with its specific substrate? How do proteins take their shapes, & what role do opposite charges/shapes play? Can certain mechanisms prevent extreme socio/political outcomes? Can democracy and authoritarianism co-habit? Is State the march of God on Earth? Might democracy be practised (merely) ritualistically? Why is social memory so poor? Is ‘balance’ fundamental to (only?) biological life? Can industries produce as efficiently as trees do? Does cosmopolitanism (truly) celebrate difference? Is living with true difference impossible? Do enzymes also vanish like how scripts do? What are we silent about? Is equilibrium worth searching for? What does the future hold? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from chemistry (Prof. Kankan Bhattacharyya, IISER, Bhopal), history (Dr. Ananya Chakravarti, Georgetown University, Washington DC), & political science (Prof. Niraja Gopal Jayal, JNU, New Delhi).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TCOO show.

Prof. Kankan Bhattacharyya (chemistry) is Visiting Professor, Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal. He retired from Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Kolkata, in 2016, where he was teaching since 1987 and also held the position of Director from 2009 till 2013. His research interests are ultrafast and ultraslow dynamics, femtosecond laser spectroscopy, single molecule spectroscopy, live cell, biological water, and chemistry in nano-cavities. Prof. Bhattacharyya completed his B.Sc. (Chemistry, 1974), M.Sc. (Chemistry, 1976), & Ph.D. (Chemistry, 1984) from Calcutta University. For his post-doctoral research, he went to Columbia University and University of Notre Dame, USA. He mainly uses femtosecond spectroscopy and single molecule spectroscopy, and has conducted first of its kind experiments in biological assemblies. He is credited with the discovery of water in biological systems (‘biological water’), which is 100-1000 times slower than ordinary water. Prof. Bhattacharyya has over 250 publications to his credit and has also supervised over 30 Ph. D. students during his career. He was/is a co-editor of several journals such as The Journal of Physical Chemistry. Also, he is an elected Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS, 2008), Indian National Science Academy (INSA, 2002), & the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS, 1997). He is also a recipient of multiple awards, including, INSA Golden Jubilee Medal (2010), TWAS Prize (2007), Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (Chemical Sciences, 1997), and the CSIR New Millennium Science Leadership Medal (2000).

Dr. Ananya Chakravarti (history) is Associate Professor, Department of History, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA. Her work is focused on the intersection of religion and empire, & global and local historical methods. Her research interests lie in early modern South Asia, the Portuguese empire, colonial Brazil, and the history of the pre-suppression Jesuit order.  She is also interested in the history of emotions, particularly in the non-Western world. Dr. Chakravarti completed her Bachelors (A.B., Economics, 2005) from Princeton University (USA), and then went to University of Chicago (USA) to complete her M.A. (2007) and Ph.D. (2012) in History. She was also the Abdulhadi H. Taher Professor in Comparative Religion and Assistant Professor in the Department of History, The American University in Cairo (Egypt) from 2013 till 2015. Her first book titled: ‘The Empire of Apostles: Religion, Accommodation and the Imagination of Empire in Early Modern Brazil and India’ (OUP)  was published in 2018. A second monograph project, currently in progress, centers on a corpus of Christian texts produced in Portuguese Salcete, in 17th century Goa, in South Asian vernacular languages as a novel entry point to enduring questions of South Asian historiography, including linguistic choice and subalternity, the production of imperial subjects, and the role of the ‘region’. Dr. Chakravarti has received multiple fellowships, & grants, including, Senior Long-term Research Fellowship (American Institute of Indian Studies, AY 2018-2019), Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellowship (European University Institute, 2012-2013) &  Mellon Foundation Planning Grant (2014).

Prof. Niraja Gopal Jayal (political science) is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. She has also held visiting appointments at, among others, King’s College (London, 2014), the Écoles des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris, 2014), Princeton University (USA, 2009-2010), and the University of Melbourne (Australia, 2007). Her research interests are democracy, citizenship, representation, & governance. Prof. Jayal completed her B.A. in Political Science from University of Delhi (DU), M.A. (Political Science) from JNU, then went to University of Oxford (UK) to do her M. Phil. in Politics before completing her Ph.D. in Political Science from JNU. She has published widely in scholarly and popular publications. Her book ‘Citizenship and Its Discontents’ (Harvard, 2013) won the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Prize in 2015. She is also the author of ‘Representing India: Ethnic Diversity and the Governance of Public Institutions’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), & ‘Democracy and the State: Welfare, Secularism and Development in Contemporary India’ (OUP, 1999). She has co-edited ‘The Oxford Companion to Politics in India’, and is the editor/co-editor of, among others, ‘Democracy in India’ (OUP, 2001) and ‘Local Governance in India: Decentralisation and Beyond’ (OUP 2005). She is currently working on a book on the decline of the public university in India. In 2009, she delivered the Radhakrishnan Memorial Lectures at All Souls College, University of Oxford (UK). She has also been the Vice-President of the American Political Science Association in 2011-2012.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TCOO mentionsHeraclitus, Francis Xavier, Roberto de Nobili, G.W.F. Hegel, Leo Tolstoy, Emil Fischer, Karl Polanyi, V. Shantaram, Jonathan Z. Smith, James Lovelock, Bruno Latour, William Dalrymple, Thomas Piketty, & Glen Weyl, among others.