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In Session: Conceptualizing Mind and Madness: The Local, the Global, and the Dilemmas of Cross-Cultural Historical Inquiry
1: Mind Sciences and Somatic Histories in the Hindi Medical Literature, 1900-1940s
Thursday, March 25, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Auro University, Surat, India
The emergence of "mind sciences" in vernacular Hindi literature was a variegated phenomenon. While western ideas on madness impacted the ways in which insanity was understood in late nineteenth and early twentieth century colonial India, there was a complicated process of segregation and filtration involved. Certain categories were fused with ancient wisdom, and new taxonomies of madness emerged. The meanings were altered, and cures offered intended self-disciplining and gendered aligning to alter society.
This abstract will examine how ‘the power of mind’ emerged as a potent category to cure what nationalists regarded as a phase of national "impotency". After all, "pathologization of mind" occurred in a very different way. Insanity was regarded more as a "collective pathology" than an ‘individual sickness’ in the colonial period. The body as a metaphor for the nation has been discussed in detail by numerous historical works. The mind and its sickness have received little attention so far. The yogic feats, attempts to find a panacea that could cure all illnesses and belief in a "supreme Aryan race" were pathologies that need to be interrogated from the point of view of both mind and body in order to understand what Fanon called the "violence of colonialism".