Room 4.36 RRST
Room 4.36, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU


Nov 20 2018


3:30 pm


Department of History

Department of History

Meat, Mercy, Morality: Animals and Humanitarianism in Colonial India


Speaker: Dr. Samiparna Samanta
(Associate Professor of History, Jindal Global Law School, O. P Jindal Global University)


This talk examines the relationship between animals, diet, and disease in late nineteenth and early twentieth century India to analyze its impact on the history of Calcutta’s urban spaces. More specifically, it explores how slaughterhouse emerged as a major site of tension among British public health officers, humane societies, and the bhadralok (Bengali middle class) as they came to be enmeshed in an interlocking relationship and debated the regulation of Calcutta’s urban space. In the twentieth century, with the emergence of new notions of social hygiene, contests over appropriate measures for controlling animals became part of wider debates surrounding environmental ethics, vegetarianism, and a politics of race/class that reconfigured boundaries between the colonized and colonizer, “humans” and “nonhuman animals.” At a theoretical level, through this story of animal-human interface, I illustrate how the Bengali bhadralok in their understanding of diet and germs, often mediated the language of modern ‘science’ and imagined it in their own cultural contexts. More importantly, I demonstrate how humans and animals often mimicked the boundaries between the colonized and the colonizer.

Samiparna Samanta is an Associate Professor at Jindal Global Law School, O. P Jindal Global University (JGU), India. Her research focuses on nineteenth and twentieth century South Asia, predominantly in areas of history of science and medicine, environmental history; colonialism; human-animal relations. She received her Ph.D. from Florida State University (FSU) in summer 2012, and an MA in History of Science and Medicine from FSU in 2008. Her current book project uses the lens of human-animal relationships to understand the nature of British imperialism in India.

This event is a Science, Technology and Medicine Seminar organised by the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine and cosponsored by the Department of History.

All are welcome. No registration is required.

Date/Time: Tuesday, 20/11/2018 3:30pm
Venue: Room 4.36, 4/F Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus
Language: English

For further information, please visit: http://www.chm.hku.hk/Animals_and_Humanitarianism_in_Colonial_India.html