The history of medicine and disease in colonial India remains a dynamic and innovative field of research, covering many facets of health, from government policy to local therapeutics. This volume presents a selection of essays examining varied aspects of health and medicine as they relate to the political upheavals of the colonial era. These range from the micro-politics of medicine in princely states and institutions such as asylums through to the wider canvas of sanitary diplomacy as well as the meaning of modernity and modernization in the context of British rule.

The volume reflects the diversity of the field and showcases exciting new scholarship from early-career researchers as well as more established scholars by bringing to light many locations and dimensions of medicine and modernity. The essays have several common themes and together offer important insights into South Asia’s experience of modernity in the years before independence. Cutting across modernity and colonialism, some of the key themes explored here include issues of race, gender, sexuality, law, mental health, famine, disease, religion, missionary medicine, medical research, tensions between and within different medical traditions and practices and India’s place in an international context. This book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of modern South Asian history, sociology, politics and anthropology as well as specialists in the history of medicine.

chapter |15 pages


ByMark Harrison, Biswamoy Pati

chapter 1|21 pages

The sentencing of assisted suicide in the Nizamut Adawlut, 1810–1829

Religion, health and gender in the formation of British Indian criminal law
ByJane Buckingham

chapter 2|24 pages

The great shift

Cholera theory and sanitary policy in British India, 1867–1879
ByMark Harrison

chapter 3|13 pages

Hakims and Haiza

Unani medicine and cholera in late Colonial India
BySaurabh Mishra

chapter 4|24 pages

Of cholera, colonialism and pilgrimage sites

Rethinking popular responses to state sanitation, c.1867–1900
ByAmna Khalid

chapter 5|24 pages

Western science, indigenous medicine and the princely states

The case of Ayurvedic reorganization in Travancore, 1870–1940
ByBurton Cleetus

chapter 6|26 pages

Christian missionary women’s hospitals in Mysore state, c.1880–1930

ByBarbara N. Ramusack

chapter 7|24 pages

The epidemiological, health and medical aspects of famine

Views from the Madras Presidency (1876–78)
ByLeela Sami

chapter 8|24 pages

Gender and insanity

Situating asylums in nineteenth-century Bengal
ByDebjani Das

chapter 9|36 pages

Confining ‘lunatics’

The Cuttack Asylum, c.1864–1906 1
ByBiswamoy Pati

chapter 10|20 pages

What did the ‘wise men’ say?

Gender, sexuality and women’s health in nineteenth-century Bengal
BySujata Mukherjee

chapter 11|19 pages

Feminizing empire

The Association of Medical Women in India and the campaign for a Women’s Medical Service
BySamiksha Sehrawat

chapter 12|19 pages

Indian physicians and public health challenges

Bombay Presidency, 1896–1920
ByMridula Ramanna

chapter 13|23 pages

Tracking kala-azar

The East Indian experience and experiments
ByAchintya Kumar Dutta