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Week 5: Medicine and Empire

This session examines the relationship between medicine and empire through a series of readings on the experience of disease in colonial India.


To what extent was medicine part of the ‘ideology of empire’?

What role did disease prevention play in consolidating colonial rule in India?

To what degree was it possible for the Indian population to ‘resist’ the imposition of Western medicine?

Core Readings:

David Arnold, Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India (1993), 'Ch. 5: Plague: Assault on the Body,' pp.200-239 [e-book]

Rohan Deb Roy, 'Quinine, mosquitoes and empire: reassembling malaria in British India, 1890–1910,' South Asian History 4 (2013), pp.65-86 [e-journal]

Waltraud Ernst, ‘Beyond East and West: From the History of Colonial Medicine to a Social History of Medicine(s) in South Asia,’ Social History of Medicine 20 (2007), pp.505-524 [e-journal]

Mark Harrison, ‘Towards a Sanitary Utopia? Professional Visions and Public Health in India, 1880-1914’, South Asia Research, 10 (1990),19-41 [e-journal]

Saurabh Mishra, 'Incarceration and Resistance in a Red Sea Lazaretto, 1880-1930' in Alison Bashford (ed.) Quarantine: Local and Global Histories (Basingstoke, 2016).

Further Reading:

Nandini Bhattacharya, Contagion and Enclaves: Tropical Medicine in Colonial India (Liverpool, 2012)

Pratik Chakrabarti, Medicine and Empire (Basingstoke, 2014)

Mark Harrison, Public Health in British India: Anglo-Indian Preventive Medicine 1859-1914 (Cambridge, 1994)

R. MacLeod and M. Lewis (eds.), Disease, Medicine, and Empire: Perspectives on Western India and the Experience of European Expansion (London, 1988)

Samiksha Sehrawat, Colonial Medical Care in North India: Gender, State, and Society, c.1840-1920 (Dehli, 2013)