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'Taming the Tropics’: Naval Surgeons, Tropical Medicine and Colonial India

Event type
Maritime History & Culture
Event dates
, 5:15PM - 7:15PM
IHR Wolfson Room NB01, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Manikarnika Dutta (University of Oxford)
020 7862 8740
Tropical diseases, particularly amongst those voyaging to Asia, were a major concern for the British Empire. Keeping sailors healthy and free from disease was essential since Britain relied on them for its military and commercial needs.

Manikarnika Dutta (University of Oxford) will use new research to show how naval surgeons shaped tropical medicine and hygiene in the 1800s. Years of working in the Indian Ocean enabled surgeons to conduct surveys of and experiments on ailing seamen. Their ideas often refined and even challenged medical knowledge back in Britain, and were part of a wider imperial aim of ‘taming the tropics’. 

Covering fevers, plague and cholera, this paper will draw upon the writings of naval surgeons, medical journals, newspaper reports and a wide range of other sources.