ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Vernacularising and Nationalising Medicine in Bengal

Nationalizing the Body: The Medical Market, Print and Daktari Medicine by Projit Bihari Mukharji (London: Anthem Press), 2011; pp XIV + 351, price not indicated.

The theme of this book is daktari medicine in Bengal from 1860 to 1930. While “western” medicine in India is regarded as a wider category aligned with state medicine but not subsumed by it, daktari medicine is viewed as a narrower category, a vernacularised form of the former recovered from a variety of Bengali sources.

The author, Projit Bihari Mukharji, a Wellcome Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, explains how the term daktari caught on after 1860 and gained currency as a system distinct from indigenous medical systems. Bengal is the focus, Mukharji explicates, because it had one of the earliest medical colleges training a large number of medical personnel who took up employment in Bengal, and some beyond Bengal. The author undertakes a thorough analysis of the existing historiography of the history of medicine in the introduction and in each of the six cogently argued chapters. The book has an exhaustive bibliography, tables and illustrations.

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