Monday, August 20, 2018

Dey on plantations, law and health in colonial India

Earlier this year, Arnab Dey, SUNY Binghamton, published "Diseased Plantations: Law and the political economy of health in Assam, 1860-1920" in Modern Asian Studies (March 2018), 645-82. Here is the abstract:
This article argues that ideas of health and disease in the Assam tea plantations of northeastern India exceeded instrumental logics of bodily disorder, medical ‘objectivity’, and preventive cure. It looks at cholera, kala-azar (or black-fever), and malaria—the three main killers in these estates—to show that imperatives of private capital and law conditioned and constrained parameters of well-being, mortality, and morbidity in these plantations. It therefore suggests that epidemiological theories and praxis emerged from a simultaneous—but expedient—reading of three versions of the labour body: the pathological, the productive, and the legal. The overlaps between commerce, law, and pathogens provide for a unique, if not exceptional, social history of health in colonial India.
Further information is available here