Physics in Perspective

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 146–178 | Cite as

C. V. Raman and Colonial Physics: Acoustics and the Quantum

  • Somaditya Banerjee


Presenting the social and historical context of Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, this paper clarifies the nature and development of his work in early twentieth-century colonial India. Raman’s early fascination with acoustics became the basis of his later insights into the nature of the light quantum. His work on light scattering played an important role in the experimental verification of quantum mechanics. In general, Raman’s worldview corrects certain Orientalist stereotypes about scientific practice in Asia.


Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman Raman effect Quantum theory Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science Indian Institute of Science Physics in India Orientalism 



I thank David Cassidy, Alexei Kojevnikov, Michel Janssen, Robert Brain, Sean Quinlan, Daniel Kennefick, John Crepeau, Peter Pesic, Robert Crease, and Alexei Pesic for suggestions and comments about this paper and mentoring help in general. Thanks also goes to D. C. V. Mallik, Rajinder Singh, and Meera B. M. at the Raman Research Institute, and Felicity Pors at the Niels Bohr Archive for giving me access to the pictures used here. I acknowledge the support of the Office of Research and Economic Development at the University of Idaho.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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