CFP: The Body in Colonial India



Illustration: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India. Caption: ‘Two men wrestling.’ Written at Hansi Cantonment, Hissar District, eighty-five miles north-west of Delhi for Colonel James Skinner. 1825. London, British Library.

CFP Deadline: June 12, 2018

Colloquium Date: July 7, 2018

Over the last decade, scholarship on “the body” has received increasing academic attention in research on colonialism in India. Historians have examined the interplay between the body and several areas of enquiry, from gender and sexuality to material culture, foodways, and stimulants. Their findings have foregrounded the impact of colonialism on the bodies of colonisers and colonised alike, as well as the often pervasive scope of colonial biopolitics. In this way, scholars have established the centrality of the body to the colonial experience in India. What has been assessed to a lesser extent is the degree to which knowledge of the body became a discursive contact zone between Indian and European actors in the colonial period.

This colloquium aims to advance the historiographical debate by examining the role of knowledge, including medical knowledge, in shaping bodily understandings and practices in colonial India. How did Indians and Europeans construct, transmit and challenge knowledge of the body and its associated bodily practices? How did the colonial encounter affect older forms of knowing and doing? How did knowledge of the body turn into a focal point for debates around personal and collective emancipation?

Presentations will consist of seminar papers by Erica Wald (Goldsmiths), Kate Imy (UNT) and Teresa Segura-Garcia (Uni. Pompeu Fabra) and a roundtable. Lunch will be provided to all participants. Registration is free courtesy of the University of North Texas, the Royal Historical Society, the Society for the Social History of Medicine, and Goldsmiths. Travel assistance may be available to graduate students and ECRs through the SSHM:

 Please send proposals (100-200 words) for 5-10 minute roundtable presentations to Kate Imy ( by June 12, 2018.

The conference will be held at Goldsmiths (University of London, UK) on July 7, 2018.

Special thanks to Julia Hauser (Uni. Kassel) for her indispensable contributions to this initiative

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