‘Trouble with the Classics: Education Reform and the Cultivation of a Premodern Medical Tradition in India’

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By | Early Medicine, Events and Visits


Ayurvedic pharmacy, Bombay, India (Mark de Fraeye / Wellcome Images)

The next seminar in the 2013-14 History of Pre-Modern Medicine academic seminar series, will take place on Tuesday 18th February.

Details: Anthony Cerulli (Hobart and William Smith Colleges)

Trouble with the Classics: Education Reform and the Cultivation of a Premodern Medical Tradition in Modern India

This talk introduces a new project, which includes ethnographic and archival research, on the history of ayurvedic education in India. Looking at two basic institutions of education in Ayurveda, the college and the gurukula, the talk reflects on formative events and discourses in the last decade of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century that influenced the construction of the modern Ayurvedic College syllabus. This history suggests the underpinnings of a modern “tradition” of Ayurveda were forged amid vigorous debates among organizations of ayurvedic practitioners about the compatibility of Ayurveda’s premodern foundations, often identified in the Sanskrit medical classics, and European biomedicine. The ways in which these deliberations led to institutionalized educational reform in Ayurveda are also considered and, in the process, the categories “traditional” and “modern” as markers to describe Ayurveda are problematized.

The seminar will take place in the Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, NW1 2BE.  Doors open at 6pm prompt, the seminar will start at 6.15pm.

The seminar series is focused on pre-modern medicine, which we take to cover European and non-European history before the 20th century (antiquity, medieval and early modern history, some elements of 19th-century medicine).

Further details on the seminar series are available in a previous post.

Ross Macfarlane

Ross Macfarlane is the Research Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Library.

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