South Asia Seminar - Kapil Raj

"Making a Portuguese-Language Herbal Speak: 'Local' Knowledge and the East India Company on the Malabar Coast in the 18th Century"

European knowledge, especially medicine, is usually presented as being "scientific" as opposed to the "empirical", non-theorised, "local" practices of non-European peoples. It is thus a commonplace amongst historians to consider that the former displaced the latter if not into total oblivion at least into marginality during the course of European expansion and colonisation. Preliminary research on a mid-18th Portuguese-language century herbal and pharmacopeia from the Malabar coast allows us to examine this widely-held assumption and helps throw new light on the interaction between European and "local" medical practices as well as on the languages through which they they circulated and interacted with each other. Finally, this research also contributes significantly to our understanding of the commercial, administrative and diplomatic practices of the English and other European East India Companies on the Malabar coast during this period.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)