The Social History of Health and Medicine in Colonial India (Hardback) book cover

The Social History of Health and Medicine in Colonial India

Edited by Biswamoy Pati, Mark Harrison

© 2009 – Routledge

256 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415501453
pub: 2011-09-16
Hardback: 9780415462310
pub: 2008-12-04

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This book analyzes the diverse facets of the social history of health and medicine in colonial India. It explores a unique set of themes that capture the diversities of India, such as public health, medical institutions, mental illness and the politics and economics of colonialism. Based on inter-disciplinary research, the contributions offer valuable insight into topics that have recently received increased scholarly attention, including the use of opiates and the role of advertising in driving medical markets. The contributors, both established and emerging scholars in the field, incorporate sources ranging from palm leaf manuscripts to archival materials.

This book will be of interest to scholars of history, especially the history of medicine and the history of colonialism and imperialism, sociology, social anthropology, cultural theory, and South Asian Studies, as well as to health workers and NGOs.


"Mark Harrison’s credentials as a historian of medicine in South Asia are beyond dispute. During the last two decades, he has published extensively on various aspects of disease, medicine, and science, with a particular focus on their intersections with British imperialism and war… This collection of essays is an invitation to discover the fascinating history of medicine in colonial South Asia, as well as a potential source of inspiration for both junior and senior scholars who wish to engage further with the subject. Written in a concise and accessible style, the book is likely to become standard reading not only for scholars of South Asia but also for those with an interest in the comparative history of medicine." - Amelia Bonea, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies; Journal of International and Global Studies Volume 4, Number 1, (November 2012).

"The book is a must for students of the history of South Asia, and not just its medical history, since it has a lot about colonial rule in practice." – Michael Mann, H-Soz-u-Kult (May, 2009)

"The social history of health and medicine in colonial India is an excellent and sophisticated edited volume which aims to develop some of the newest themes which have emerged in the medical historiography of colonial India in recent years… Its subject matter is diverse yet curiously coherent; its content is well-edited; and its impact is potentially important. It will prove useful to academics, students, social anthropologists and those with an interest in South Asian studies." - Ian Miller, University College Dublin, Ireland; Contemporary South Asia, Vol. 19, No. 2, June 2011

Table of Contents

1. Ranald Martin’s Medical Topography [1837]: The Emergence of Public Health in Calcutta Partho Datta 2. The Haj Pilgrimage and Issues of Health Saurabh Mishra 3. Subordinate Negotiations: The Indigenous Staff, Colonial State and Public Health Amna Khalid 4. Plague, Quarantine and Empire: British-Indian Sanitary Strategies in Central Asia, 1897–1907 Sanchari Dutta 5. Medical Research and Control of Disease: Kala-azar in British India Achintya Kumar Dutta 6. The Leprosy Patient and Society: Colonial Orissa, 1870s–1940s Chandi P. Nanda and Biswamoy Pati 7. Medical and Colonial Power: The Case of the Mentally Ill in Nineteenth Century Bengal Waltraud Ernst 8. Prejudices Clung to by the Natives: Ethnicity in the Indian Army and Hospitals for Sepoys, c.1870s–90s Samiksha Sehrawat 9. Racial Pathologies: Morbid Anatomy in British India, 1770–1850 Mark Harrison 10. Pharmacology, Indigenous Knowledge, Nationalism: Few Words from the Epitaph of Subaltern Science Projit B. Mukharji 11. Creating a Medical Consumer: An Analytical Study of Advertisements Madhuri Sharma 12. Opium as a Household Remedy in Nineteenth Century Western India? Amar Farooqui

About the Editors

Biswamoy Pati is Reader in the Department of History at Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University, India. His research interests focus on colonial Indian social history and recent publications include an edited book, The Nature of 1857 (2007), and a book co-edited with Waltraud Ernst entitled India’s Princely States: People, Princes and Colonialism (2007).

Mark Harrison is Professor of the History of Medicine and Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at Oxford University. His publications include Public Health in British India (1994), Climates and Constitutions (1999) and a co-edited book with Biswamoy Pati, Health, Medicine and Empire (2001).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in South Asian History

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
MEDICAL / History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General