Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Sciences

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 14, 2016 - History - 374 pages
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Like many of the traditional medicines of South Asia, Ayurvedic practice transformed dramatically in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With Doctoring Tradition, Projit Bihari Mukharji offers a close look at that recasting, upending the widely held yet little-examined belief that it was the result of the introduction of Western anatomical knowledge and cadaveric dissection.

Rather, Mukharji reveals, what instigated those changes were a number of small technologies that were introduced in the period by Ayurvedic physicians, men who were simultaneously Victorian gentlemen and members of a particular Bengali caste. The introduction of these devices, including thermometers, watches, and microscopes, Mukharji shows, ultimately led to a dramatic reimagining of the body. By the 1930s, there emerged a new Ayurvedic body that was marked as distinct from a biomedical body. Despite the protestations of difference, this new Ayurvedic body was largely compatible with it. The more irreconcilable elements of the old Ayurvedic body were then rendered therapeutically indefensible and impossible to imagine in practice. The new Ayurvedic medicine was the product not of an embrace of Western approaches, but of a creative attempt to develop a viable alternative to the Western tradition by braiding together elements drawn from internally diverse traditions of the West and the East.
 

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Contents

Refiguring Ayurveda
1
The Sociology of Braided Sciences
35
The Pocket Watch and Machinic Physiospiritualism
77
Reticulate Physiospiritualism and the Thermometer
117
Visionaries Demonic Germs and the Microscope
157
Hormonized Humors and Organotherapy
191
From Diagnosis to Pharmacy in a Bottle
227
A Requiem
257
Acknowledgments
289
Notes
293
Bibliography
333
Index
357
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About the author (2016)

Projit Bihari Mukharji is the Martin Meyerson Assistant Professor in History & Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, the author of Nationalizing the Body: The Market, Print and Daktari Medicine and coeditor of Medical Marginality in South Asia: Situating Subaltern Therapeutics and Crossing Colonial Historiographies: Histories of Colonial and Indigenous Medicines in Transnational Perspective.

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