Leprosy in Colonial South India: Medicine and Confinement

By Jane. Buckingham | Go to book overview

5
Leprosy Research and the Development of Colonial Medical Science

In the first half of the nineteenth century, investigation and research into the disease of leprosy and the search for leprosy remedies in the Madras presidency were pursued primarily by interested individual medical officers with some regulation by the Madras Medical Board and presidency government. Government attention was, at most, spasmodic, since care of leprosy sufferers and the incorporation of leprosy remedies into the British medical system in India were not a government priority. From the 1860s until the close of the 1870s, during the period of expansion and consolidation of crown rule in India, the attention of British government and Home medical authorities was drawn to leprosy in the empire. The investigation of leprosy in India developed in the wider context of British concern for the welfare of the empire and the culture of scientific enquiry burgeoning in Europe.


Introduction

Basalla's model of Western science

In 1967, George Basalla published an article on the spread of Western science from Europe into the colonial world. Though not uncritically received, Basalla's article has considerably influenced understanding of the spread of science into the non-European world, including India. Applying the article to the Indian context, Arnold justly criticized Basalla for being ‘diffusionist, rather than interactive or dialectical’ and thus neglecting the importance of ‘local constraints and impulses’ and ‘political and professional influences’

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