Reading the Landscape of Precolonial Animal Husbandry in India

Friday, January 7, 2011: 10:10 AM
Room 303 (Hynes Convention Center)
Brian P. Caton , Luther College, Decorah, IA
Colonial officials seeking to deploy veterinary medicine and “scientific breeding” frequently reported their activities in language suggesting the need to marginalize folk wisdom, religious superstition, and other forms of animal husbandry deemed ineffective or of dubious value. However, colonial documents seldom attempted to present Indian knowledge of animal care or breeding as a system, in ways that might be parallel to colonial interest in Ayurvedic and Yunani medicine. This paper argues that although the physiological theories of Ayurvedic and Yunani medicine greatly informed precolonial Indian veterinary care, the precolonial texts which discussed animal maintenance tended to be concerned primarily with governance. Rather than becoming visible as a system or field of knowledge, precolonial Indian animal care and its practitioners became visible only as part of the terrestrial landscape, in ways directly linked to the limited administrative visibility of animals themselves.
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