University of Cambridge > > Twentieth Century Think Tank > Good practices in rural landscapes: J. Entrican and the rediscovery of indigenous medicine in colonial Burma

Good practices in rural landscapes: J. Entrican and the rediscovery of indigenous medicine in colonial Burma

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Until the end of the 1910s, colonial medicine generally ignored Burmese indigenous medical practices in rural villages, making little effort to understand not only the rich medical/healing systems at work, but also Burmese attitudes and behaviour related to health and medical practitioners that would have otherwise explained the resilience and popularity of indigenous medicine among the indigenous population of the countryside. I examine how this view began to change within part of the colonial medical establishment in particular among outlying and isolated civil surgeons such as Dr James Entrican by looking at his personal reports informed by his experiences in the rural villages and district headquarters in Upper Burma. These and other personal papers reveal how much a changing awareness of the importance of local culture to rural health contributed to his growing interest in Burmese medical practices that would have been ignored by the previous generation of colonial medical officers and by his contemporaries in Rangoon and Calcutta.

Speaker Biography: Dr Atsuko Naono received her PhD in History from the University of Michigan in December 2005. Dr Naono served as a research assistant and as an associate fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Warwick until October this year and is currently a Research Associate at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Her book, State of Vaccination: the Fight Against Smallpox in Colonial Burma, was published in 2009 by Orient Blackswan as part of the New Perspectives in South Asian History Series.

This talk is part of the Twentieth Century Think Tank series.

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