School of History


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Dr Pratik Chakrabarti


History (Rutherford N4.S7)

Pratik Chakrabarti is a historian who specialises in the history of imperial medicine and science.

Pratik Chakrabarti received his PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. He subsequently worked at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford on a four year research project. He joined the School of History at the University of Kent in 2006 as the Wellcome Lecturer in the History of Modern Medicine. He is the Convenor of the postgraduate programme, MA in the History of Science, Medicine, Environment and Technology. His areas of interest are in the history of science and medicine, and Imperial history. He is currently working on a Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Laboratory Medical Research in Colonial India, 1890-1950’. The research focuses on the social and political history of the medical research institutes and laboratories that were established in British India from 1890s. His forthcoming monograph, Microbes and Morality: Bacteriology in the Tropics, is based on this research.

Pratik is also the co-editor of the journal Social History of Medicine,

In Oxford between 2002 and 2006 he was working on a project on British medicine in the colonies, both in the West and in the East Indies in the 18th century. The monograph, based on research in the archives in England, India and the West Indies, Materials and Medicine: Trade, Conquest and Therapeutics in the Eighteenth Century (2010). The book shows how medicine acquired its new materials as well as its materialism in the eighteenth century.

Pratik is also the author of, Western Science in Modern India: Metropolitan Methods, Colonial Practices, Permanent Black, 2004, his first monograph based on his PhD thesis. This book situates western science within the broad political and social history of modern India. Starting in the eighteenth century, it studies a process of knowledge-transfer that involved not only Indian nationalist scientists but also Europeans (East India Company surgeons and surveyors), ultimately shaping the destiny of both the nation and its science. He is currently writing a textbook for Palgrave MacMillan titled, Medicine and Empire, 1600-1960.

Pratik is keen to supervise PhD students who are interested in the history of imperial medicine and science in the period 1700-1950. He is also interested in the history of trade, public, international and global health policies. There are exciting areas of research here and many themes are in need of great scholarly attention. Another field of interest is Imperial or South Asian history, particularly the history of the British Raj in India and British imperial policies.

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Selected Publications

Chapters in Books
  • ‘The Travels of Hans Sloane: A Gentlemanly History of Colonial Science’, in Alison Walker (ed.), From Books to Bezoars: The Collector of the Age, British Library Publishing, 2012.
  • ‘Science and Swadeshi: The Establishment and Growth of the Bengal Chemical & Pharmaceutical Works’, in Uma Das Gupta (ed), Science and Modern India: An Institutional History c.1784-1947, Pearson Education, New Delhi, 2010. ISBN 9788131728185.
  • ‘Networks of Medicine: Trade and Medico-Botanical knowledge in Eighteenth Century Coromandel Coast’ in Arun Bandopadhyay (ed.) Science and Society in India, 1750-2000, Manohar Books, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 49-82. ISBN 978-81-7304-854-8.
  • ‘Science in India in the Twentieth Century’, in J.B. Dasgupta (ed.) Science, Technology, Imperialism and War, History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture series, Pearson Education, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 121-173. ISBN: 81-317-0851-9
  • ‘Medical Marketplace beyond the West: Bazaar Medicine, Trade and the English Establishment in Eighteenth Century India’, in Patrick Wallis and Mark Jenner (eds.) Medicine and the Market in Early Modern England and its Colonies, c. 1450-c.1850, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, pp. 196-215. ISBN: 978-0-230-50643b-5
  • ‘Of Empire and other Parasites; Tropical Medicine in British India’, Biblio: A Review of Books, XII, 9 & 10, September - October, 2007, pp. 20-21. ISSN 0971-8982.
  • ‘“Living versus Dead”: The Pasteurian Paradigm and Imperial Vaccine Research’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 84, 3, 2010, pp. 387-423. ISSN 0007-5140.
  • ‘Commentary: Choksy NH: Professor Lustig's Plague Serum.  Letter to the Editors of the Lancet. Lancet July 1900 pp 291-2’, International Journal of Epidemiology, ISSN 1464-3685 (forthcoming).
  • ‘Curing Cholera: Pathogens, Places and Poverty in South Asia’, International Journal of South Asian Studies (forthcoming), vol. 3, 2010. ISBN 9788173048333
  • ‘Beasts of Burden: Animals and Laboratory Research in Colonial India’, History of Science, 48, 2, 2010, pp. 125-152,  ISSN 0073-2753
  • ‘Empire and Alternatives: Swietenia Febrifuga and the Cinchona Substitutes’, Medical History, 54, 1, 2010, pp. 75-94. ISSN 0025-7273
  • ‘“Signs of the Times”: Medicine and Nationhood in British India’, Osiris, 24, 2009, pp. 188-211. ISSN 0369-7827
  •  ‘“Neither of meate nor drinke, but what the Doctor alloweth”: Medicine amidst War and Commerce in Eighteenth Century Madras’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 80, 1, 2006, pp. 1-38. ISSN 0007-5140.
  • ‘Science, Nationalism, and Colonial Contestations: P. C. Ray and his Hindu Chemistry’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 37, 2, 2000, pp. 185-213. ISSN: 0019-4646
  • ‘Science, Morality, and Nationalism: The Multifaceted Project of Mahendralal Sircar’, Studies in History, 17, 2, 2001, pp. 245-274. ISSN 0257-6430
  • ‘Asiatic Society and its Vision of Science: Metropolitan Knowledge in a Colonial World’, Calcutta Historical Journal, 21-22, 1, 1999-2000, pp. 1-32. ISSN: 0254-9794

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  • Co-editor, Social History of Medicine
  • Member of Editorial Board, Notes and Records of the Royal Society
  • Member of Ethics committee, Faculty of Humanities, University of Kent
  • Member of Association of Asian Studies, 2006-2007
  • Member of Society for South Asian Studies, British Academy, 2007-
  • Member of American Association for the History of Medicine
  • Member of Society for the Social History of Medicine, 2010-
  • Member of Management Advisory Committee of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford, 2004-2006
  • Member of British Library South Asia Group
  • Organised the international conference: 'Medicine, science and empire in the eighteenth century', University of Kent, 8-9 April 2011
  • Co-organised the conference, 'Hybrids and Partnerships: Comparing the Histories of Indigenous Medicine in Southern Africa and South Asia', 15-16 September 2005
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Dr Chakrabarti is on study leave throughout the 2014/15 academic year

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School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

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Last Updated: 03/09/2014