Society for Advancing the History of South Asia 5
The first paper discusses the ‘embodied empiricism’ of practitioners of Avicennian medicine at a medical madrasa in colonial Delhi. It demonstrates that while surgery and dissections, known as dastkari, were formerly performed by subaltern practitioners, transformation in the knowledge and practice of this humoral medicine in the colonial context led to a new understanding of labor and mores of the aristocrat hakims. Moving to Ottoman lands, the second paper delves into the implications of regulation of medical practice by exploring the conflicting relationships between physicians and non-licensed practitioners, largely named as mutatabbibs, in the late Ottoman era. Presenting medical and scientific knowledge making as a site of contestation, this paper explores how boundaries between modern, traditional, and Islamic medicine often blurred and led to circulation of knowledge among competing agents of medical practices. Shifting our focus to China, the third paper situates the Chinese Muslim pharmacy tradition in a paradoxical political engagement of Chinese nationalist politics with its Muslim population. This paper examines Republican-era Chinese Muslim pharmacies both as sites of distinctive medical knowledge and practice and as constituents in the production of new arguments about Chinese Muslim identity. The fourth paper explores the diaries of Hakim Habibur Rahman (1880-1947), an influential leader of Unani tibb in colonial Bengal, and discusses the implications of Islamic healing as a response to the political context in colonial Bengal under British rule and competing nationalist movements. This paper analyzes how local Muslim healers challenged British assumptions of Islamic sciences.