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Bull Hist Med. 2017;91(3):554-585. doi: 10.1353/bhm.2017.0060.

Vernacularizing the Body: Informational Egalitarianism, Hindu Divine Design, and Race in Physiology Schoolbooks, Bengal 1859-1877.


Government-aided vernacular schools introduced "human physiology" as a subject in 1859. I use the first couple of schoolbooks and the debate running up to the introduction of the subject to open up the particular and specific histories through which modern anatomo-physiological knowledge was vernacularized in colonial Bengal. In so doing I have two interconnected goals in this article. My first goal is to analyze the precocious decision to teach human physiology to colonial schoolboys, at a time when this was the norm neither in Great Britain nor indeed in traditional Bengali schools. My second goal is to use this case to further develop "vernacularization" as a conceptual tool. In pursuing these twin objectives, I simultaneously hope to move the debate on modern anatomo-physiological knowledge in South Asia away from the level of epistemic superiority and onto-politics to the level of concrete historical particularities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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