Imperial Technoscience

From Inside Technology

Imperial Technoscience

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

By Amit Prasad

A study of science and technology practices that shows how even emergent aspects of research and development remain entangled with established hierarchies.





A study of science and technology practices that shows how even emergent aspects of research and development remain entangled with established hierarchies.

In the last four decades, during which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has emerged as a cutting-edge medical technology and a cultural icon, technoscientific imaginaries and practices have undergone a profound change across the globe. Shifting transnational geography of tecchnoscientific innovations is making commonly deployed Euro/West-centric divides such as west versus non-west or “innovating north” versus “non-innovating south” increasingly untenable—the world is indeed becoming flatter. Nevertheless, such dualist divides, which are intimately tied to other dualist categories that have been used to describe scientific knowledge and practice, continue to undergird analyses and imaginaries of transnational technoscience. Imperial Technoscience puts into broad relief the ambivalent and contradictory folding of Euro/west-centrism with emergent features of technoscience. It argues, Euro/West-centric historicism, and resulting over-determinations, not only hide the vibrant, albeit hierarchical, transnational histories of technoscience, but also tell us little about shifting geography of technoscientific innovations. The book utilizes a deconstructive-empirical approach to explore “entangled” histories of MRI across disciplines (physics, chemistry, medicine, etc.), institutions (university, hospitals, industry, etc.), and nations (United States, Britain, and India). Entangled histories of MRI, it shows, better explain emergence and consolidation of particular technoscientific trajectories and shifts in transnational geography of science and technology (e.g. centers and peripheries).


$41.00 X ISBN: 9780262026956 232 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 figures


  • 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