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Passage through India: global vaccination and British India, 1800-1805


Bennett, MJ, Passage through India: global vaccination and British India, 1800-1805, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 35, (2) pp. 201-220. ISSN 0308-6534 (2007) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1080/03086530701337492


Between 1798 and 1805 the novel practice of vaccination spread rapidly around the globe, and its first introduction into India needs to be seen as the initiative of Edward Jenner and his followers rather than imperial policy. Against a background of military and imperial expansion, however, the British in India and Ceylon supported vaccination with resources and energy lacking at home. This paper examines the technical problems associated with the establishment of vaccination, the promotional and organisational strategies deployed, and the varied responses of the local population. The results were spectacular, with a million vaccinations - more than in Europe - by 1807, but the initial momentum was hard to maintain, not least because many Indians found the procedure intrusive and religiously offensive. Vaccination created new tensions in Anglo-Indian relations that anticipated and merged with the issues of imperial medicine that later became so salient in India. Nevertheless, the early campaigns established the practice firmly in parts of India and provided lessons, and inspiration for the vaccination cause worldwide.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Asian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding past societies not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bennett, MJ (Professor Michael Bennett)
ID Code:49664
Year Published:2007
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:History and Classics
Deposited On:2007-08-01
Last Modified:2009-06-12
Downloads:12 View Download Statistics

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