Modern South Asian Studies seminar MT21 Wk 3: Decolonise Mosquitoes

Conveners: Nayanika Mathur, Imre Bangha, Kira Huju, Thiruni Kelegama and Anwesha Roy

Speaker: Rohan Deb Roy (Reading)

The decolonial turn in the academy is recent but pervasive. Scholarly manifestoes in many academic disciplines, ranging from ethnography to geology, have urged on the need to explore, and contest the impacts of colonialism in their respective fields. But what possibilities and challenges are revealed when decolonising insights are applied to rethink specific categories in animal history? In this talk, I address this question by focussing on mosquitoes in British India. In the process, I will elucidate three distinct historical processes: ‘invisible labour’, ‘dissent’ and ‘re-colonisation’. I will argue that the project of ‘decolonising mosquitoes’ should be grounded on a scholarly praxis that enables historians to formulate newer critiques of colonialism. I will also comment on why it is problematic for such a project to seek convenient alternatives in post-colonial nationalisms. 

Rohan Deb Roy is an Associate Professor in South Asian History at the University of Reading, where he is also Co-Director of the Centre for Health Humanities. He is the editor of the British Journal for the History of Science Themes, an associate reviews editor of the American Historical Review, a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Historical Society, and the author of Malarial Subjects: Empire, Medicine and Nonhumans in British India (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

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