UGC-Sponsored One-Day National-level Seminar on “Literature, Medicine and Psychoanalysis in Colonial and Postcolonial India"
Departments of English and Bengali, Chandrakona Vidyasagar
Mahavidyalaya, Paschim Medinipur
in collaboration with
Dept. of English, Sukumar Sengupta Mahavidyalaya, Paschim Medinipur
The connection between imperial anxieties
and the tropical health situation has been a pregnant area of research in colonial historiography. For a long time, the focus has largely been Eurocentric: the effects of European medicine and healthcare policies introduced to the sub-continental colonies
have been viewed in relation to the strategies of governing the colonial subjects. David Arnold’s Colonising the Body considers the State’s role in introducing European medicine as instrumental to the British imperial project in India.
In literary representations, especially the Late Victorian and early twentieth century fiction and memoirs by Rudyard Kipling, Philip Meadows Taylor, Flora Annie Steel and George Orwell, we have several pictures of a palliative, medically-oriented imperialism.
Waltraud Ernst’s Mad Tales of the Raj (1998) and Christiane Hartnack’s Psychoanalysis in Colonial India (2001) offer thoughtfully documented analyses of the early developments of psychology and psychotherapy in colonial India.
Indian medical historians like Poonam Bala and Projit Mukharji question the tendency of looking at western medicine only in terms of monopoly and power. Alongside obvious conflicts, there had also been some kinds of negotiation and coexistence between the
western and the indigenous medical systems, as represented in a text like Arogyaniketan by Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay. Further, contemporary developments in medical and mental sciences found their ways to a new orientation gradually becoming
evident in Indian literature(s) – a scientific and psychoanalytic approach to life and its anomalies. Across the colonial and postcolonial periods, the interfacing areas of literature, medicine and psychoanalysis are wide and dynamic : this may range
from Parashuram’s humorous approach to all kinds of healing arts – both indigenous and western – in ‘Chikitsa Sankat’, or a physician-author’s faithful attempt at bringing into literature medical and psychoanalytic
perspectives (as in several novels by Banaphul) to the choice of ‘Dr. Shankar’ as the narrative voice of Mulk Raj Anand’s novel, The Private Life of an Indian Prince, or Amitava Ghosh’s fictional representation
of a real-life character like Dr. Roland Ross (The Calcutta Chromosome). The focus on criminal psychology using medical terms was also a notable sub-trend in Bengali and Hindi thrillers and detective fiction during the 1920s and 30s. So the
medical and fictional literatures in the colonial and postcolonial times, both in English and other Indian languages reflect some complicated yet interesting issues which can now be explored from different perspectives. The seminar looks for active participation
from academicians, research scholars, teachers and students interested in exploring and contributing to the said area of interdisciplinary studies.
sub-themes may address, but are not limited to:
- Narratives of colonial medicine and psychiatry
- Fictional/non-fictional literature on disease, death and health-policies
- Cultures of Healing: new modes of vaccination and therapeutics
- Medical ethics and the doctor-patient relationship
- The interface between European and indigenous medical traditions
- The Women’s voice: Writings by/on lady doctors, nurses and midwives in colonial/postcolonial India
Instruction for paper-presenters:
Abstracts for single or joint paper-presentation in English(within
150-200 words), in MS Word (doc. or docx. file) or in Bengali (Bangla Word) should be sent to :
within September 7, 2016.
Selection of abstracts will be communicated by September 12.
Selected participants will have to attend the venue on September 22 and pay the registration fee on spot.
In absentia presentations will be considered on special request. Amount of registration fee will be notified soon.
Chandrakona Vidyasagar Mahavidyalaya
Date: September 22, 2016
Registration time: 10.30-
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