By Srirupa Prasad

This e-book examines genealogies of contagion in among contagion as microbe and contagion as have an effect on. It analyzes how and why hygiene grew to become authoritative and succeeded in changing into part of the wider social and cultural vocabulary in the colonialist, anti-colonial, in addition to modernist discourses.

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Additional info for Cultural Politics of Hygiene in India, 1890–1940: Contagions of Feeling

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It is contended that the Bengal Famine has often been forgotten because of its close temporal contiguity to World War II, India’s independence, and the Partition, and many recent events of remembrance of the famine have been framed around this omission. David Arnold stresses the importance of understanding famines as more than critical antecedents to present experiences of largescale food shortages and starvation. He reinforces their centrality to the ‘new social history’ lens to scrutinize the interlinked networks of food, power, and culture at moments when economic and social resources had been completely exhausted.

While the resultant slow degeneration toward death was almost imperceptible, it nonetheless produced a body that was at the same time an object, a metaphor, and a signifying medium in the late colonial context. 28 Cultural Politics of Hygiene in India, 1890–1940 Epidemics and famines bring out a corporeal history of colonial India that was glaring, wretched, and heartbreaking. Much has been written on the visual nature of famines in India. The Bengal Famine of 1943, for example, was an episode in Indian history that led to the publication of a wide range of texts, from novels, films, photographs, reports, and journalistic essays to academic writings that significantly contributed to the creation of a cultural space.

Indeed, as Joseph Alter argues, ‘Gandhi’s search for Truth was manifest in his biomoral politics and that his experimentation with vegetarianism, diet reform, nature, cure, and brahmacharya must be understood as integral to his project of satyagraha as a whole’ (Alter, 2000a, 200b). One of Gandhi’s major texts, Key to Health, is a guidebook in which he laid down what he called the ‘rules’ of health. One of his most popular writings, Key to Health is a compendium of a variety of food items and the elements of the natural environment, which contribute in a major way to the maintenance of the body.

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