chapter  1
14 Pages

Social history of health and medicine

Colonial India
WithMark Harrison, Biswamoy Pati

Fashioned out of new administrative practices and conceptions of social order, the notion of public health was rather different from the ‘reasoning public’ familiar to readers of Habermas. Entirely new dimensions of health and medicine have also been revealed, often by younger scholars working at doctoral level. The establishment of port health trusts in cities such as Bombay and Calcutta was one direct result of this, as, of course, was the flurry of activity that resulted from the importation of plague into Bombay in 1896. In one way or another, race was never far below the surface in colonial health policy. It was sometimes present in explicit ways, in medico-bureaucratic categories and in segregated medical institutions, but just as often in unspoken assumptions about the needs of the Indian people, their liability to different forms of illness, and the role of their habits in the production of disease.