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Title: Maternal mortality and the state in British India, c. 1840-c. 1920
Author: Lang, Seán Francis.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3604 8151
Awarding Body: Anglia Ruskin University
Current Institution: Anglia Ruskin University
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis investigates the role of the British colonial state in India in moves to combat maternal mortality and to spread western methods of midwifery among the Indian population. The first part of the thesis concentrates on the Madras Presidency, where the provincial government took a pioneering role in the field; later chapters consider developments in Bombay. The role of the Crown is considered in detail as is the important part played by the Countess of Dufferin's Fund, a voluntary organisation which was closely identified with state maternity and female medical provision. Research was mainly archival, although some use was made of accounts of work by anthropologists and midwives working with Indian traditional birth attendants, or dais. Central to the research were the written records of the Government of India and of the provincial governments of Madras and Bombay held in the British Library, and the records of the General Department of the Government of Bombay held in the Maharashtra State Archives in Mumbai. I was granted privileged access to the Royal Archives at Windsor and to the records of Interserve, the Church of England Missionary Society; I was also the first researcher in this field to consult the Dufferin Fund papers in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. This thesis offers an important corrective to the standard historiography of women's health in British India, which has generally dismissed the role and even the interest of the state in the issue. This thesis argues that the government lying-in hospital in Madras formed a significant forum for social encounter between Indians and British and that it served as the epicentre of a major initiative by the Madras government to spread western medical practice and ideas throughout the presidency. It also highlights how rivalry between the different presidencies of British India lent maternity provision considerable significance as a field of political manoeuvre. It further argues that in the latter years of the nineteenth century the British authorities sought to use concern about Indian maternity conditions and women's health to neutralise and undermine both the Indian nationalist movement and the burgeoning movement for female emancipation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available