GU4811: Encounters with Nature | K. Sivaramakrishnan
Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
This course offers an understanding of the interdisciplinary field of environmental, health and population history and will discuss historical and policy debates with a cross-cutting, comparative relevance: such as the making and subjugation of colonized peoples and natural and disease landscapes under British colonial rule; modernizing states and their interest in development and knowledge and technology building, the movement and migration of populations, and changing place of public health and healing in South Asia. The key aim of the course will be to introduce students to reading and analyzing a range of historical scholarship, and interdisciplinary research on environment, health, medicine and populations in South Asia and to introduce them to an exploration of primary sources for research; and also to probe the challenges posed by archives and sources in these fields.
Some of the overarching questions that shape this course are as follows: How have environmental pasts and medical histories been interpreted, debated and what is their contemporary resonance? What have been the encounters (political, intellectual, legal, social and cultural) between the environment, its changing landscapes, and state? How have citizens, indigenous communities, and vernacular healers mediated and shaped these encounters and inserted their claims for sustainability, subsistence or survival? How have these changing landscapes shaped norms about bodies, care, and beliefs?
The course focuses on South Asia but also urges students to think and make linkages beyond regional geographies in examining interconnected ideas and practices in histories of the environment, medicine, and health. Topics will, therefore, include (and students are invited to add to these perspectives and suggest additional discussion themes): colonial and globalized circuits of medical knowledge, with comparative case studies from Africa and East Asia; and the travel and translation of environmental ideas and of medical practices through growing global networks.
Link to Vergil
Note: only courses offered during the two previous semesters have active Vergil links.