My research specializations are in the history of medicine, science and global and imperial history, spanning South Asian, Caribbean and Atlantic history from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. I am currently completing my next research monograph, titled Inscriptions of Nature: Geology and the Science of Antiquity. The manuscript is based on the major Leverhulme trust funded project; ‘An Antique Land; Geology, Philology and the Making of the Indian Subcontinent, 1830-1920’, of which I was the Principal Investigator. The project investigates the history of the discovery of the geological past of Indian subcontinent in its philological, anthropological and cultural dimensions and its links with the discovery of Indian antiquity. In doing so, the project highlights the unique convergence of mythology and science in India.
I have published four sole-authored monographs. My first book, Western Science in Modern India: Metropolitan Methods, Colonial Practices (2004) was based on my PhD dissertation. Beginning in the eighteenth century, this book reveals a process of knowledge-transfer that involved European surgeons, missionaries and surveyors and Indian nationalist scientists. In the process, it demonstrates how modern science became the idiom of Indian nationhood and modernity.
My second monograph, Materials and Medicine: Trade, Conquest and Therapeutics in the Eighteenth Century was published in 2010. Through a study of the expansion of British colonialism in the West Indies and South Asia, it explores how medicine was transformed in the eighteenth century in the context of war and commerce and acquired new medical materials as well as a distinct materialism.
My third monograph, Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics, (2012) is based on the research for a major project; the  Wellcome Trust University Award  on ‘Laboratory Medical Research in Colonial India 1890-1950’ at the University of Kent, 2006-2011. The book provides a social and cultural history of bacteriology and vaccination in colonial India, situating it at the confluence of colonial medical practices, institutionalization and social and cultural movements.
While teaching history of medicine and imperialism, I realised that although there has been prolific new research on colonial medicine in recent years there was a need for a synoptic and thorough analysis of the field. Consequently, I wrote Medicine and Empire, 1600-1960, which was published in 2014 by Palgrave MacMillan. The book provides a global history of imperial medicine focusing on British, French and Spanish empires in Africa, Asia and America from the seventeenth to the twentieth century.


PhD in History
Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. 2000

MPhil in Modern History
Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. 1996

MA, Modern History
Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. 1993




  1. Inscriptions of Nature; Geology and the Sciences of Antiquity (forthcoming, 2018)

  2. Medicine and Empire: 1600-1960, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2014, ISBN Hardback 9780230276352; Paperback Also available as ebook. The book will be published in Chinese language by the end of 2017.

  3. Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics, Rochester Studies in Medical History, University of Rochester Press, Rochester, NY, 2012. ISBN 9781580464086. Paperback edition 2017, 9781580465908. Also available as ebook

  4. Materials and Medicine: Trade, Conquest and Therapeutics in the Eighteenth Century, Studies in Imperialism, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2010. ISBN 9780719083129; Paperback edition, 2014, ISBN 9780719096549

  5. Western Science in Modern India: Metropolitan Methods, Colonial Practices, ‘Opus 1’ Series, Permanent Black, New Delhi, 2004, ISBN 9788178240787. Paperback edition, 2010, ISBN Also available as Kindle edition.

Articles in Refereed Journals

  1. ‘Gondwana and the Politics of Deep Past’, Past & Present (accepted subject to minor revisions)

  2. “‘The World Rests on the Back of a Tortoise’; Science and Mythology in Indian History”, (with Joydeep Sen) Modern Asian Studies, 50, 3, 2016, pp. 808-840. ISSN:0026-749X (Print), 1469-8099 (Online)

  3. ‘Purifying the River: Pollution and Purity of Water in Colonial Calcutta’, Studies in History, 31, 2, 2015, pp. 178-205. ISSN 0257-6430

  4. ‘“Living versus Dead”: The Pasteurian Paradigm and Imperial Vaccine Research’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 84, 3, 2010, pp. 387–423. ISSN 0007-5140.

  5. ‘Curing Cholera: Pathogens, Places and Poverty in South Asia’, International Journal of South Asian Studies, 3, 2010, pp. 153-168. ISBN 9788173048333

  6. ‘Beasts of Burden: Animals and Laboratory Research in Colonial India’, History of Science, 48, 2, 2010, pp. 125-152, ISSN 0073-2753

  7. ‘Empire and Alternatives: Swietenia Febrifuga and the Cinchona Substitutes’, Medical History, 54, 1, 2010, pp. 75-94. ISSN 0025-7273.

  8. ‘“Signs of the Times”: Medicine and Nationhood in British India’, Osiris, 24, 2009, pp. 188-211. ISSN 0369-7827.

  9. ‘“Neither of meate nor drinke, but what the Doctor alloweth”: Medicine amidst War and Commerce in Eighteenth Century Madras’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 80, 1, 2006, pp. 1-38. ISSN 0007-5140.

  10. ‘Science, Nationalism, and Colonial Contestations: P. C. Ray and his Hindu Chemistry’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 37, 2, 2000, pp. 185-213. ISSN: 0019-4646.

  11. ‘Science, Morality, and Nationalism: The Multifaceted Project of Mahendralal Sircar’, Studies in History, 17, 2, 2001, pp. 245-274. ISSN 0257-6430.

  12. ‘Asiatic Society and its Vision of Science: Metropolitan Knowledge in a Colonial World’, Calcutta Historical Journal, 21-22, 1, 1999-2000, pp. 1-32. ISSN: 0254-9794.

Other Journal Articles


  1. ‘An Experimental Theatre for Vaccines: Bombay in the time of Plague’, Commentary: Choksy NH: Professor Lustig’s Plague Serum’, International Journal of Epidemiology, ISSN 1464-3685 (December 2011).

  2. ‘Of Empire and other Parasites; Tropical Medicine in British India’, Biblio: A Review of Books, XII, 9 & 10, September–October, 2007, pp. 20-21. ISSN 0971-8982

  3. ‘Introduction’ to the Special issue on ‘States of Healing: New Perspectives on the State in Histories of Medicine’ of the journal South Asian History and Culture, 2012, vol. 4, no. 1, pp 1-8.

Chapters in Books

  1. ‘Science and Imperialism since 1870’, (with Michael Worboys) in Modern Science in National, Transnational, and Global Context, Vol. 8 of The Cambridge History of Science¸ (eds) Hugh Richard Slotten, Ronald L. Numbers, and David N. Livingstone (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2018)

  2. ‘Enlightenment and Authority’ in Lisa Smith (ed) The Age of Enlightenment (1650-1800), volume 4 of 6 volume R. Cooter (ed), A Cultural History of Medicine, (Berg, Bloomsbury, forthcoming, 2018)

  3. ‘Science and Swadeshi: The Establishment and Growth of the Bengal Chemical & Pharmaceutical Works’, in Uma Das Gupta (ed), Science and Modern India: An Institutional History c.1784-1947, Pearson Education, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 117-142. ISBN 9788131728185.

  4. ‘Sloane’s Travels: A Colonial History of Gentlemanly Science’, in Alison Walker, Arthur MacGregor and Michael Hunter edited, From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and his Collections, British Library Publishing, London, 2012. ISBN

  5. ‘Networks of Medicine: Trade and Medico-Botanical knowledge in Eighteenth Century Coromandel Coast’ in Arun Bandopadhyay (ed.) Science and Society in India, 1750-2000, Manohar Books, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 49-82. ISBN 978817304-854-8.

  6. ‘Science in India in the Twentieth Century’, in J.B. Dasgupta (ed.) Science, Technology, Imperialism and War, History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture series, Pearson Education, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 121-173. ISBN: 81-317-0851-9

  7. ‘Medical Marketplace beyond the West: Bazaar Medicine, Trade and the English Establishment in Eighteenth Century India’, in Patrick Wallis and Mark Jenner (eds.) Medicine and the Market in Early Modern England and its Colonies, 1450-c. 1850, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, pp. 196-215. ISBN: 978-0-230-50643b-5

Other articles/entries
1.      ‘Health and Disease since 1700’: Flagship entry for The Cambridge Dictionary of Modern World History, edited by Chris Cook and John Stevenson, Cambridge University Press, 2017, ISBN: 9780511842740
2.      ‘Science’, entry in Gita  Dharampal-Frick, Rachel  Dwyer, Monika Kirloskar, and Jahnavi Phalkey, (eds.)  Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 247-250. ISBN: 9780199452750.

Blog Posts


    Completed research projects:

    1. Between April 2006 and December 2011, I worked on a five years (3 yrs fulltime, 2 yrs part-time) research project funded by the Wellcome Trust University Award at the University of Kent, ‘Laboratory Medical Research in Colonial India 1890-1950’. The research was published in the monograph, Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics in 2012.

    2. From October 2002 to March 2006, I worked on a four year Wellcome Trust funded project on ‘Medicine in the Age of Commerce’ in Oxford University. The monograph based on the research, titled Materials and Medicine: Trade, Conquest and Therapeutics in the Eighteenth Century was published in 2010.

    3.      PhD. thesis: ‘Western Science and Modern India: Institutions, Individuals and Discourses’, 2000. Funded by the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, CSIR, New Delhi, India. The thesis was published as a monograph in 2004, Western Science in Modern India; Metropolitan Methods, Colonial Practices.

    Current and Future research projects:

    1. An Antique Land: Geology, Philology and the Making of the Indian Subcontinent (funded by the Leverhulme trust), from January 2013. I am currently completing the manuscript based on this project, Inscriptions of Nature; Geology and the Sciences of Antiquity.

    2. The Road Backward: Rise of the Himalayas and the Deepening of History

    3. Reimagining Gondwanaland: Towards an Antipodal History of the Southern Continent

    4. Modern Waters of the Global South


    • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS)

    • Fellow, Linnean Society of London (FLS)

    • American Association for the History of Medicine, 2010-

    • British Society for the History of Science

    • Society for the Social History of Medicine, 2010-

    Pratik Chakrabarti

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