Staff Profile:Dr Rohan Deb Roy

Dr Rohan Deb Roy
Job Title:
Lecturer in South Asian History (19th/20th century)

Study Abroad Coordinator

Undergraduate teaching

Part One Option:

Hunger and Famines in History

Part Two Option:

'The Brightest Jewel in the British Crown': The Making of Modern South Asia

Part Three Topic:

Modern Science and the Imperial World

Postgraduate teaching

MA Option:

Animals in History

Enquiries for supervision are welcome, especially on the following themes: colonial and postcolonial South Asia; British imperialism in the Indian subcontinent more generally; animal history; the history of imperial science and colonial medicine; environmental history of the British Empire; comparative histories of hunger and famines.

Areas of Interest:

I am Lecturer in South Asian History at the University of Reading (2015-present). I am particularly interested in the histories of science and medicine, histories of empire and colonialism, environmental history, and animal history. I am the author of Malarial Subjects: Empire, Medicine and Nonhumans in British India, 1820-1909 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017) and co-editor (with Guy Attewell) of Locating the Medical: Explorations in South Asian History (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018). I have put together a co-edited special issue on "Nonhuman Empires" (with Sujit Sivasundaram) for the journal "Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East", (35.1, May 2015). I received my PhD from University College London (2009), and have held postdoctoral fellowships at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta (2009-2010), at the University of Cambridge (2011-2013), and at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (2013-2015). I have been a Barnard-Columbia Weiss International Visiting Scholar in the History of Science.

A copy of Malarial Subjects can be downloaded here

Malaria was considered one of the most widespread disease-causing entities in the nineteenth century. It was associated with a variety of frailties far beyond fevers, ranging from idiocy to impotence. And yet, it was not a self-contained category. The reconsolidation of malaria as a diagnostic category during this period happened within a wider context in which cinchona plants and their most valuable extract, quinine, were reinforced as objects of natural knowledge and social control. In India, the exigencies and apparatuses of British imperial rule occasioned the close interactions between these histories. In the process, British imperial rule became entangled with a network of nonhumans that included, apart from cinchona plants and the drug quinine, a range of objects described as malarial, as well as mosquitoes. Malarial Subjects explores this history of the co-constitution of a cure and disease, of British colonial rule and nonhumans, and of science, medicine and empire. It pursues the methodological challenge of narrating the significance of medical categories and artifacts in history, while critiquing the links between scientific knowledge and imperial power.

My current project Imperial Insects examines the extent to which nineteenth-century British imperialism shaped the discipline of entomology (the 'scientific study of insects'), and how the figure of insects in turn informed the contours of colonial history. With focus on the history of insects in South Asia, I explore the interactions between the imperial worlds of laboratory medicine, colonial governance, natural history, commerce and vernacular print. I examine the imbrications of enclosed cabinets of naturalists as well as insulated entomological laboratories with wider public cultures, which reflected a variety of promises, prejudices and stereotypes relating to insects.

Alongside working on my own projects I have continued to collaborate with colleagues in organizing various workshops and conferences on themes such as 'Locating the Medical in South Asian History' (London, 2010); 'Public and Private' (Calcutta, 2010); 'Nonhuman Empires' (Cambridge, 2012); 'Unusual Lives' (Berlin, 2014), 'Global Science' (New Delhi, 2014), 'Object Lessons and Nature Tables: Research Collaborations between Historians of Science and University Museums' (Reading, 2016), 'Tiger Cultures’ (London, 2016), and 'Political Animals in Southern Asia' (Reading, 2017).

Research groups / Centres:
  • Book reviews editor, "South Asian History and Culture" (Routledge)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member, British Society for the History of Science.
  • Member, Centre for Health Humanities at Reading.
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Number of items: 11.










This list was generated on Tue Jul 17 03:44:39 2018 UTC.

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