Dr Shinjini Das

  • Colonial Medicine
  • Colonial Christianity
  • British Empire
  • Modern South Asia

As a historian of colonial medicine and modern South Asia, my work focuses especially on health practices beyond the immediate realm of the colonial state. I am increasingly more interested in exploring the intersections of ideas around medicine and religion in colonial contexts.

My book Vernacular Medicine in Colonial India: Family , Market and Homoeopathy (Cambridge University Press, December 2018, forthcoming) is the first academic monograph about the cultural history of homoeopathy, focussing on a significant region within the British colonial world. Homoeopathy was among the most vibrant nineteenth-century European medical heterodoxies thriving in the British Empire. This book examines the historical processes through which a medical genre originating in eighteenth-century Germany was reworked as an indigenous life practice and as a ‘vernacular science’ in Bengal in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

At Oxford, I am critically analysing the role of Protestant Missions in the making of British Indian public health by tracing the interactions between evangelical, colonial and vernacular actors. The history of medicine and the history of Christianity have mostly remained separate fields of investigation in the context of South Asia. In bringing them together, I am assessing the influence of British religious organisations in shaping nineteenth-century ideas of health and healing in India. In the process, the myriad positions adopted by Indian converts to Christianity will also be examined.

Over the years, I have been part of collaborative endeavours in organising conferences on themes such as ‘The Bible, Race and Nation in the 19th c’ (Cambridge, 2014) and ‘Orientalism and Its Institutions’ (Cambridge, 2016). A co-edited volume on the relationship between Christianity, imperialism and nineteenth-century ideas of race is currently under consideration with the Cambridge University Press.


  • Chosen Peoples, Promised Lands: Bible, Race and Empire in the Nineteenth Century (co-edited volume, under consideration with Cambridge University Press)

  • Vernacular Medicine in Colonial India: Family, Market and Homoeopathy Cambridge University Press, Dec 2018 (forthcoming)

  • An Imperial Apostle? St Paul, Protestant Conversion, and South Asian Christianity

  • Biography and Homoeopathy in Bengal: Colonial lives of a European heterodoxy

  • Innovating Indigeneity, Reforming Domesticity: Nationalizing Homoeopathy in Colonial Bengal

  • More
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