Mahamari Plague : rats, colonial medicine and indigenous knowledge in Kumaon and Garhwal, India
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Colonial approaches to animal and zoonotic diseases are often scrutinized in terms of their recognition or dismissal of indigenous knowledge. In this article I examine British colonial approaches to “Mahamari plague” in mid-nineteenth century Kumaon and Garhwal, in the Indian Himalayas. Discussing two key colonial medical expeditions in the region, I argue that the eventual recognition of the validity of Kumaoni and Garhwali knowledge of Mahamari and its relation to rats intensified intrusive colonial intervention on indigenous lifeways. I examine this neglected impact of the colonial recognition of indigenous knowledge and urge for approaches that place more emphasis on the practical impact of colonial epistemologies.
Lynteris , C 2022 , ' Mahamari Plague : rats, colonial medicine and indigenous knowledge in Kumaon and Garhwal, India ' , Medical Anthropology , vol. 41 , no. 4 , pp. 373-386 . https://doi.org/10.1080/01459740.2022.2058397
Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DescriptionResearch leading to this article was funded by the Wellcome Trust [grant ID 217988/Z/19/Z] for the project “The Global War Against the Rat and the Epistemic Emergence of Zoonosis.”
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