The subject of medicalisation of childbirth in colonial India has so far been identified with three major themes: the attempt to reform or ‘sanitise’ the site of birthing practices, establishing lying-in hospitals and replacing traditional birth attendants with trained midwives and qualified female doctors.
This book, part of the series The Social History of Health and Medicine in South Asia, looks at the interactions between childbirth andmidwifery practices and colonial modernities. Taking eastern India asa case study and related research from other areas, with hard empiricaldata from local government bodies, municipal corporations anddistrict boards, it goes beyond the conventional narrative to showhow the late nineteenth-century initiatives to reform birthing practiceswere essentially a modernist response of the western-educatedcolonised middle class to the colonial critique of Indian socioculturalcodes. It provides a perceptive historical analysis of how institutionalisationof midwifery was shaped by the debates on the women’s question,nationalism and colonial public health policies, all intersecting inthe interwar years. The study traces the beginning of medicalisationof childbirth, the professionalisation of obstetrics, the agency of maledoctors, inclusion of midwifery as an academic subject in medical collegesand consequences of maternal care and infant welfare.
This book will greatly interest scholars and researchers in history, social medicine, public policy, gender studies and South Asian studies.
Preface. Acknowledgements. List of Abbreviations Introduction 1. Scientific Mothers and Healthy Infants: The Birth of a 'Modern-Scientific' Discourse in Bengal, 1860s-1900 2. The Art and Science of Midwifery: Institutionalisation of Midwifery and the Constitution of a Medical Discourse, 1860s-1930s 3. Maternal and Child Welfare:A Nationalist Concern in Late Colonial Bengal, 1900-1940s 4. The ‘Care-Givers’: Ante-Natal Care in Bengali Public Discourse and Practice 1860s-1940s 5. Conclusion 6. Afterword Glossary. References
Since the late 1990s, health and medicine have emerged as major concerns in South Asian history. ‘The Social History of Health and Medicine in South Asia’ series aims to foster a new wave of inter-disciplinary research and scholarship that transcends conventional boundaries. It welcomes proposals for monographs, edited collections and anthologies which offer fresh perspectives, innovative analytical frameworks and comparative assessments. The series embraces diverse aspects of health and healing in colonial and postcolonial contexts.