Contagion and Enclaves

BookContagion and Enclaves

Contagion and Enclaves

Tropical Medicine in Colonial India

Postcolonialism Across the Disciplines, 10


November 20th, 2012



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Colonialism created exclusive economic and segregatory social spaces for the exploitation and management of natural and human resources, in the form of plantations, ports, mining towns, hill stations, civil lines and new urban centres for Europeans. Contagion and Enclaves studies the social history of medicine within two intersecting enclaves in colonial India; the hill station of Darjeeling which incorporated the sanitarian and racial norms of the British Raj; and in the adjacent tea plantations of North Bengal, which produced tea for the global market. This book studies the demographic and environmental transformation of the region: the racialization of urban spaces and its contestations, establishment of hill sanatoria, expansion of tea cultivation, labour emigration and the paternalistic modes of healthcare in the plantation. It examines how the threat of epidemics and riots informed the conflictual relationship between the plantations with the adjacent agricultural villages and district towns. It reveals how Tropical Medicine was practised in its ‘field’; researches in malaria, hookworm, dysentery, cholera and leprosy were informed by investigations here, and the exigencies of the colonial state, private entrepreneurship, and municipal governance subverted their implementation. Contagion and Enclaves establishes the vital link between medicine, the political economy and the social history of colonialism. It demonstrates that while enclaves were essential and distinctive sites of articulation of colonial power and economy, they were not isolated sites. The book shows that the critical aspect of the enclaves was in their interconnectedness; with other enclaves, with the global economy and international medical research. An Open Access edition of this work is available on the OAPEN Library.

1. This is the first book that theorises the impact of tropical medicine on the prevention of disease in the tropical colonies themselves, providing an analysis of research as well as its implementation. 2. Although there are other books on the study of north-east Indian Himalayas, this is the first to locate its history within both the plantations and the hill-stations, providing a theoretical framework for both. 3. This book includes the colonial and the post-colonial period, thereby providing a perspective on long-term political and economic developments in the region.

Combining original observations with very sophisticated arguments, written both clearly and elegantly, this makes an important contribution to the field.

Mark Harrison

... this is an interesting book with several fresh perspectives. ... a book that adds greatly to our understanding of European perceptions of the ‘tropics’

Social History of Medicine, vol 27, no 1

The Postcolonialism across the Disciplines Series seeks to span “the traditional range of disciplines… in postcolonial studies but also those less acknowledged” (front matter). Nandini Bhattacharya’s Contagion and Enclaves does this admirably ... Contagion and Enclaves provides fascinating analysis of the intersections between medical ideas and practices, and the struggles of colonial political economy.

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 15.1 (2013)

About The Author

Dr Nandini Bhattacharya is Wellcome Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Leicester.