Season 1, CHATROOM 11

When Technology Meets Ayurveda

The “epic clash” of traditional medicine vs. Western medicine is really anything but when it comes to treatment. In reality, medical systems have always influenced each other to change and evolve. In this episode, we look at the influence of technology on Ayurveda. It’s a little window into the transformation of India’s indigenous medical system, beginning in the 1860s. Projit Bihari Mukharji is an associate professor in the department of history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of “Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Sciences” (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Time Markers (mins:sec)

0:04 “Jibano Jakhano Sukhaya Jay” from movie “Arogya Niketan”
0:53 clash between traditional and Western medicines
1:13 Projit Mukharji intro
2:31 metaphor of braiding
3:22 small technologies
3:49 pocket watch and pulse diagnosis
4:27 quantitative pulse
4:47 qualitative pulse
5:40 pulse and predicting death
6:52 medical thermometer
7:35 fever in Ayurveda
8:05 heat and fever
8:36 narrowing range of body heat
9:12 thermometer and patient care

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Reading List

Mukharji, Projit Bihari. Akarnan: The Stethoscope and Making of Modern Ayurveda, Bengal, c. 1894-1952, Technology and Culture, 60:4, 953-78. (2019)

Mukharji, Projit Bihari. Cat and Mouse: Animal Technologies, Trans-Imperial Networks and Public Health from Below, British India, c. 1907-1918, Social History of Medicine, 31:3, 510-32. (2018)

Mukharji, Projit Bihari. Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Sciences, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.


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