Science, Technology, and Medicine in Colonial India

Science, Technology, and Medicine in Colonial India

Science, Technology, and Medicine in Colonial India

Science, Technology, and Medicine in Colonial India

Synopsis

Interest in the science, technology and medicine of India under British rule has increased in recent years and has played an important part in the reinterpretation of modern South Asian history. David Arnold's wide-ranging analysis combines a discussion of all three fields across the entire colonial period--from the 1860s through to Independence--offering both a survey of recent scholarship and an original overview. Arnold assesses the role of science in the making of colonial India and in the fashioning of Indian responses to British rule.

Excerpt

Since the first Cambridge History of India appeared several decades ago, and more especially over the last ten to fifteen years, there has been a rapid growth of scholarly interest in the history of science, technology and medicine in modern South Asia. This interest has arisen from diverse sources and agendas — from a lateral extension of the history of science from Europe into colonial waters; from an attempt to reassess the impact of the West on India (or conversely to demonstrate the survival and adaptation of pre-colonial ideas and practices) and to explore the nature and consequences of India's modernity; from a new willingness to contest the supposedly objective (or triumphalist) claims previously made in the name of science, technology and medicine; from a desire to probe the origins (and disturbing consequences) of an alliance between science, technology and the state in contemporary South Asia; or simply from a growing recognition of the extraordinary range and richness of the sources available to students of South Asia. As with any relatively new field of enquiry, certain issues have commanded extended, in-depth discussion, while others, seemingly of no less significance, have been largely ignored. In general, medicine and public health have been extensively and critically reappraised, whereas many aspects of science, and more especially technology, remain remarkably unexplored except in ageing works of the high colonial era. In general, we know more about state policies than we do about public responses, a great deal about the official face of science, technology and medicine, but relatively little about how it impacted on individual lives and specific social strata.

This book attempts to provide a broad interpretative overview of the scientific, technological and medical developments of the period from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, but it makes no claim to be comprehensive. It offers a thematic approach and a broad periodisation, centring on the watershed years of the 1890s and 1900s. In common with much of the recent historiography from which it draws, it seeks to examine the social and ideological context rather than the purely technical nature and significance of the developments concerned, to see science as a cultural construction, with political agendas and institutional structures of its own, and not merely as an objective phenomenon or a subject for individual biography. It aims to make central to the discussion the complex interrelationship between India and the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.