This is the second episode of 'Becoming Modern: Healthcare and History in India'. We talk about one of the central challenges of writing any kind of history: how to find and incorporate the voices of the oppressed and the under-privileged (the "voiceless")? In the history of healthcare, this challenge manifests in the form of the disproportionate focus on physicians and surgeons, and a concomitant neglect of the stories of patients and other healthcare providers, especially women (e.g., midwives and nurses). While physicians and surgeons form an extremely important group of healthcare providers -- and we will indeed be talking about them in other episodes of the show -- there also exist many other members and groups in the broader healthcare community, as well as, of course, patients themselves. This episode is the first of two which will specifically discuss how historians of medicine have tried to "go beyond doctors" to construct more complete and more comprehensive histories of healthcare. We will step outside the conventional framework of medical history and learn about healthcare and medicine in nineteenth-century India from the perspective of the ordinary patient and community member.
This episode is hosted by Kiran Kumbhar and features the scholars Sabrina Datoo, Pratik Chakrabarti, and Sanjoy Bhattacharya. It also features an excerpt from historian Roy Porter's work, read out by Suno India's Macwin Fernandes. The scholars referred to by Dr Sabrina Datoo in this episode are Mridula Ramanna and Projit Bihari Mukharji. The featured song, 'Ek shahenshah ne banava ke haseen Taj Mahal', is from the soundtrack of the 1964 film Leader; music was by Naushad, lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, and the vocals by Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar.
The title of this episode, "Beyond the Great Doctors", is based on a 1979 essay by Susan Reverby and David Rosner, who were themselves inspired by the doctor-historian Henry Sigerist who wrote in the 1950s that the history of medicine is "infinitely more than the history of the great doctors and their books."
Article by Erwin Ackerknecht titled 'A Plea for a "Behaviorist" Approach in Writing the History of Medicine'
Article by Roy Porter titled 'The Patient's View: Doing Medical History from Below'
Book by Mridula Ramanna titled 'Western Medicine and Public Health in Colonial Bombay, 1845-1895'
Article by Kiran Kumbhar titled 'The Cure'
Book edited by David Hardiman and Projit Bihari Mukharji titled 'Medical Marginality in South Asia: Situating Subaltern Therapeutics'
Book series titled "A People's History of India"
Recent book on discriminatory and unequal experiences of healthcare in India, titled 'Caste, COVID-19, and Inequalities of Care: Lessons from South Asia'
Essay on the history of smallpox vaccination from the website of the World Health Organization