Mahamari Plague: rats, colonial medicine and indigenous knowledge in Kumaon and Garhwal, India

Christos Lynteris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-386
Number of pages15
JournalMedical Anthropology
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022

Keywords

  • Plague
  • Rats
  • Colonialism
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Mahamari

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