Asif Siddiqi specializes in the history of science and technology and modern Russian history. Broadly speaking, he is interested in the mutually constitutive aspects of culture and technology in the 19th and 20th centuries. Much of his work has been in the service of recovering and revisiting transactions and transmissions of knowledge across boundaries defined by geography, nation, class, or culture. He has published two authored books, five edited volumes, and over two dozen articles in refereed journals or books.
His early writings focused on the intersection of science and technology and modern Russian history, i.e., the history of Russian/Soviet science and technology. In his first two books, he explored the intellectual, political, cultural, and social dimensions of Russian exploration of the cosmos. The most recent authored book, The Red Rockets' Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2010) reconstituted the intellectual roots of cosmic enthusiasm in Russian culture in the 19th century and bridged them with the more practical attempts of amateurs and the Soviet state to launch rockets into space.
More recently, his interests have gravitated in a number of different directions, including: science, technology, and national identity in the colonial and postcolonial contexts, particularly South Asia; histories of "global" technologies; the political economy of Stalnism; medieval science and technology; and the history of rock'n'roll.
He is currently working on several book projects:
- A book under contract to Oxford University Press, tentatively titled Soviet Science and the Gulag, which explores the multivalent means by which Soviet scientific and academic institutions, personnel, and practices affected and were affected by the phenomenon of labor camps in Stalinist Soviet Union.
- A study on the history of the Indian space program that situates its development in the broader setting of postcolonial nation-building.
- A conceptual study on a "global history" of space exploration
- A long-term project on the history of secrecy in the 20th century.
Dr. Siddiqi teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on modern European history, the history of science and technology, Russian/Soviet history, colonialism, and the history of South Asia.
In 2012-2014, he was a member of the National Research Council's "Committee on Human Spaceflight," tasked by Congress to review the long-term goals of NASA's human space exploration efforts and make recommendations to enable a sustainable program of exploration into deep space.