Postdoctoral Fellow, Indian Institute for Human Settlements
2019 to 2020
Vital Cities: Public Health, Non-Human Life and Infrastructure in South Asian Cities, 1890-1970
With more than half the population of South Asia now living in urban areas, cities are facing increasing population pressures, environmental stress and frequent public health crises. South Asian cities are struggling to provide their booming populations with clean water, well ventilated homes and recreational spaces. This project argues that historians of medicine and public health of South Asia have not fully grasped the historical complexity that has produced the present crises. It suggests that histories need to look outside colonialism, nationalism and the governance of human populations. Instead, this project emphasizes infrastructure, environment and non-human life as shaping the public health paradigms of the South Asian city. The project focuses on the cities of Bangalore, Madras and Jaffna to rethink both the history of public health and urban history beyond colonial institutions, the body and connected histories. Instead, it examines how public health as a concept emerged, its effects on and beyond the human and its eventual limits, through focusing on the multiple spaces, objects and non-human life in the city.