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Vernacular Medicine in Colonial India: Family, Market and Homeopathy
Published by Cambridge University Press
Interrelated histories of colonial medicine, market and family reveal how Western homeopathy was translated and made vernacular in colonial India.
Conceptualised in opposition to 'orthodox' medicine, homeopathy, a western medical project originating in eighteenth-century Germany, was reconstituted as vernacular medicine in British Bengal. India went on to become the home of the largest population of users of homeopathic medicine in the world today. Combining insights from the history of colonial medicine and the cultural histories of family in British India, Shinjini Das examines the processes through which Western homeopathy was translated and indigenised in the colony as a specific Hindu worldview, an economic vision and a disciplining regimen. In tracing the localisation of German homeopathy in a British Indian province, this book analyses interactions between Calcutta-based homeopathic family-firms, disparate contributors to the Bengali print market, the British colonial state and emergent nationalist governments. The history of homeopathy in Bengal reveals myriad negotiations undertaken by the colonised peoples to reshape scientific modernity in the subcontinent.
Introduction: 'A growing scandal under British rule': families, market and the vernacular; 1. A heterodoxy between institutions: bureaucracy, print-market and family firms; 2. A family of biographies: colonial lives of a Western heterodoxy; 3. A science in translation: medicine, language, identity; 4. Healing the home: indigeneity, self-help and the Hindu joint family; 5. Colonial law, electoral politics and a homeopathic public; Epilogue: a familiar science.
Shinjini Das is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Faculty of History, University of Oxford. She received her Ph.D. from University College London and has previously held a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the European Research Council at the University of Cambridge.
Reviewer: Nicolas Levi
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