chapter  10
22 Pages

Racial pathologies

Morbid anatomy in British India, 1770–1850
WithMark Harrison

The reference to Blumenbach’s system of racial classification also smacks of phrenology, which had become a popular pursuit in Calcutta during the 1820s and 1830s. The continuing relevance of racial ideas in medicine in British India is evident in the attempt to construct a pathological collection representative of the Indian empire and particularly in the work of Webb, who made use of those specimens to develop theories about racial propensities to diseases such as tuberculosis. Anatomical tuition proved very popular among students of both the English and the Hindustani classes, and Indian students played an important part in building up the College’s museum of pathological anatomy, conducting many of the dissections, and preparing the specimens for exhibit. Pathologica Indica is an extraordinary collage of pathological observations and lengthy commentaries on ancient and modern medical texts, both European and Indian.