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Blake, Jennifer (2004) The Dispensary Movement in Bombay Presidency: Ideology and Practice. 1800-1875. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Colonial medical history in India has been a source of growing research during the latter half of the last century. However, historians have tended to situate the dispensaries in a minor role, suggesting that the dispensaries had relatively little to say about the dynamics between Indian and European society during the nineteenth century. But the idea of dispensary institutions in England being applied to India was a challenge to accepted Indian medical practice, compounded by the fact that India had no comparable organisations. Money, or the lack of it, was a constant theme, but this thesis has principally focussed on Bombay Presidency, where uniquely, the early establishments of these institutions were chiefly funded and approved by Bombay council. The dispensary movement was a decisive factor in the history of colonial medicine in India, shaping attitudes and opinions as to the level of medical care that should be provided, what kind, and for whom. With the intention of promoting western medical science among the people, it was hoped that the mercantile and ruling classes would become involved with the dispensaries; and this they did, but not as patients. The sick poor remained their principle clients. The idea of the dispensaries did however filter through society, and the idea set in motion changes in medical education, charitable gift giving, and the official financing of these units. This thesis will show how the dispensaries invoked a common interest between the two cultures of east and west, between the rich and the poor. Their importance is examined to see if the idea was adequately related to the needs of Indian society, especially the poor, the very people that the English dispensaries had been opened for; and to what extent a European idea became an integral part of Indian medical practice.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:05

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