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Hardcover | $37.00 Short | £25.95 | ISBN: 9780262026956 | 232 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 9 figures| March 2014
Ebook | $26.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262322058 | 232 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 9 figures| March 2014

Imperial Technoscience

Transnational Histories of MRI in the United States, Britain, and India


The origin of modern science is often located in Europe and the West. This Euro/West-centrism relegates emergent practices elsewhere to the periphery, undergirding analyses of contemporary transnational science and technology with traditional but now untenable hierarchical categories. In this book, Amit Prasad examines features of transnationality in science and technology through a study of MRI research and development in the United States, Britain, and India. In an analysis that is both theoretically nuanced and empirically robust, Prasad unravels the entangled genealogies of MRI research, practice, and culture in these three countries.

Prasad follows sociotechnical trails in relation to five aspects of MRI research: invention, industrial development, market, history, and culture. He first examines the well-known dispute between American scientists Paul Lauterbur and Raymond Damadian over the invention of MRI, then describes the post-invention emergence of the technology, as the center of MRI research shifted from Britain to the U.S; the marketing of the MRI and the transformation of MRI research into a corporate-powered “Big Science”; and MRI research in India, beginning with work in India’s nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) laboratories in the 1940s. Finally, he explores the different dominant technocultures in each of the three countries, analyzing scientific cultures as shifting products of transnational histories rather than static products of national scientific identities and cultures. Prasad’s analysis offers not only an innovative contribution to current debates within science and technology studies but also an original postcolonial perspective on the history of cutting-edge medical technology.

About the Author

Amit Prasad is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Missouri–Columbia.


"Prasad provides a startling counter history and sociology of the invention, development, and success of MRI. His masterful use of STS tools brings into focus yet more valuable possibilities for postcolonial STS analyses. It simultaneously reveals a lag in mainstream STS thinking about the effects of Eurocentric social relations on the advance of sciences."—Sandra Harding, University of California, Los Angeles

"Amit Prasad provides a model of a new, decentered, transnational history of science and technology. His method includes tracking the shifts in the global center of research and development, analyzing the national cultures of technoscience (the celebration of big science and technology in the U.S., the narrative of impractical British science, and the configuration of Indian science as choked by bureaucracy and other institutional barriers), and studying the asymmetries of what kinds of research and technology can be done under what conditions. This is an innovative book that suggests new ways of thinking about global histories of science and technology."—David J. Hess, Vanderbilt University

"By focusing on the shifting transnational locations and practices of MRI research, Prasad deconstructs the East/West, local/global divide even as he convincingly establishes the pervasive Eurocentrism in the practice and culture of big science. A remarkable accomplishment."—Zaheer Baber, University of Toronto, author of The Science of Empire