Making an Anonymous Herbal Talk: Indigenous Knowledge, Local Languages, and Europeans on the Malabar Coast in the 18th Century

Krea Lecture Series – HIstory

European knowledge, particularly medicine, is sometimes described as “scientific” in contrast to non-European people’s “empirical,” non-theorised, indigenous traditions. As a result, historians commonly believe that the former pushed the latter into marginality if not obscurity, during European expansion and colonisation.This talk will revisit this assumption through a focus on the interaction between ‘local’ and European medical knowledge.

Join Professor Kapil Raj for the talk on the Malabar coast in the 18th century.

About the Talk

European knowledge, especially medicine, is usually presented as being “scientific” as opposed to the “empirical”, non-theorised, indigenous practices of non-European people. It is thus a commonplace amongst historians to consider that the former displaced the latter, if not into total oblivion, at least into marginality during the course of European expansion and colonisation.

This talk will present preliminary research on an anonymous 18th century illustrated herbal and pharmacopeia in Portuguese from Anjengo (Anchuthengu), an English factory on the Malabar coast, which allows us to revisit this widely-held assumption. Focusing on the interaction between European and “local” medical knowledge and practices, as well as on the languages through which they circulated and interacted with each other, it will also shed new light on day-to-day commercial, administrative and diplomatic practices of the English and other European trading companies on the west coast of the Subcontinent during this period.

About Kapil Raj

Kapil Raj is a research professor in the history of science at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and visiting professor at Krea University. His research focuses on the processes of knowledge construction through intercultural encounter between South Asia and Europe between the 17th and 21st centuries in the sciences of the open air: natural history, collecting, terrestrial surveying, mapping, linguistics…

This lecture is open to all.

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Passcode : 123456

Making an Anonymous Herbal Talk: Indigenous Knowledge, Local Languages, and Europeans on the Malabar Coast in the 18th Century

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