[SIGCIS-Members] New Book: Digital Independence. India's Way Into the Computer Age – an International History

Michael Homberg homberg at zzf-potsdam.de
Fri Dec 2 07:09:24 PST 2022


please excuse the "self-promotion": I am excited to announce the 
publication of my new book: "Digital Independence. India's Way Into the 
Computer Age – an International History" ("Digitale Unabhängigkeit. 
Indiens Weg ins Computerzeitalter – eine Internationale Geschichte"). It 
has been published this week by Wallstein, and is largely based upon my 
habilitation thesis which I finished at the University of Potsdam, 
Germany, in 2021. The book is in German language only, but an English 
translation is already planned.

I've shared the translated German blurb below. Many thanks for all the 
inspirations I received from the SIGCIS community, and I hope you all 
have a lovely weekend.

Best regards from Berlin,


Digitale Unabhängigkeit. Indiens Weg ins Computerzeitalter – eine 
Internationale Geschichte, Göttingen: Wallstein 2022 (Geschichte der 
Gegenwart, Bd. 32). URL: 


The first electronic computers arrived in India in the 1950s. Today, 
Indian programmers embody our globalized world. This book examines the 
long and chequered history of India's journey into the digital age. It 
shows how the emergence of digital expertise in India was the result of 
both national efforts and international cooperations. From early on, the 
computer thus became a symbol of Indian nation-building at the end of 
the colonial era, a tool of technocratic planning in the high modern 
age, and an instrument of power politics, cultural controversies and 
economic interests. The book interweaves a national history perspective 
on the Indian republic, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, 
with an analysis of the country's global relations, analyzing the 
different speeds and intensities of the computerization of the living 
and working worlds in the Global North and the Global South. Thus, it 
reconstructs the highly international networks of computer specialists, 
technicians, managers and politicians, development experts and activists 
in India. Since the early days of the Indian republic, industrialized 
nations such as the USA and the USSR, but also the Federal Republic of 
Germany and Great Britain promoted the expansion of computer technology 
and education in India. This study explores the roots of these 
international technical assistance programs in the Cold War era and the 
development of its global geopolitics of expertise, the growing desire 
in the Indian computer industry for “digital independence” in the global 
IT market since the 1970s and the triumph of elite programmers in 
Silicon Valley in the early 21st century. It analyzes the preconditions, 
dynamics, and consequences of global exchange processes in India after 
1947, and thus “decenters” the primarily Western perspective of computer 
history and its master narratives. Drawing on broad (archival) research 
in India, the USA, and Europe, the study's sources include governmental 
records, university archival collections, academic literary estates, 
parliamentary minutes, and contemporary media.


PD Dr. Michael Homberg

Senior Scientist/Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam

Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam (ZZF) e.V.
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam

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