Community Classroom

Diseased, Delinquent Bodies: Sanitation, Health Care and Jail Discipline in Colonial India

picture of the outside of a prison

A part of the Gender, Health and Social Justice Speaker Series

A talk by Ipshita Nath, March 4, 2022.

Following the report of the Indian Jail Committee (1864), which brought into focus excessive mortality rates, a new kind of health policing emerged as part of "Jail Discipline," which reflected the changing public-health policies of colonial India. The rapid developments in European medical practices, epidemiological research and newer understandings of disease and contagion during the 19th century informed most of the disease management and sanitary measures in Indian jails. Through an examination of techniques in western prophylaxis, tropical therapeutics and colonial "biopolitics," this talk will engage with the crucial intersections between two major state apparatuses - institutionalized health care and penal establishments. In doing so, it will establish how disease control in prisons was meant to be emblematic of the colonial government’s ability to amend and rehabilitate diseased and delinquent bodies by "treating" and "curing" both behaviours as well as pathologies.

Ipshita Nath is working on medical management and institutionalized health care in colonial India. Her book, Memsahibs: British Women in Colonial India, will be released in 2022. You can find her on Twitter @IpshitaNath.

Headshot of Ipshita Nath

The Gender, Health and Social Justice Speaker Series is jointly presented by Dr. Whitney Wood, VIU’s Canada Research Chair in the Historical Dimensions of Women’s Health, and Dr. Erika Dyck, Canada Research Chair in Health and Social Justice at the University of Saskatchewan. It was organized by Dr. Karissa Patton, a VIU Canada Research Chair Post-Doctoral Fellow, and Letitia Johnson, a PhD Candidate from the University of Saskatchewan.


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