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Imagining Indian Medicine

Epistemic Virtues and Dissonant Temporalities in the Usman Report, 1923

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Sabrina Datoo1
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  • 1 Reed CollegePortland, ORUSA
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Abstract

In 1923, the Presidency of Madras published The Report of the Committee on the Indigenous Systems of Medicine, the first of many Indian policy documents to regulate indigenous medicine. At first glance, the report seems to offer more evidence of the increasing entrenchment of religious nationalist positions within medical networks in the colonial period. Scholars have analyzed its main text, and a significant “Memorandum” associated with it, and found them emblematic of the formation of Hindu science in the early twentieth century. In this article, drawing on the methods of intellectual and cultural history, I conduct a close analysis of the unstudied Urdu-language sections of the report, which suggest a different interpretation. I argue that within the Urdu-language testimonies written by Hindu men, one finds a continuity with early modern medical courtly culture, whose resonances in the colonial period have largely been elided by modern historiography.

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