© 2016

Histories of Medicine and Healing in the Indian Ocean World

The Medieval and Early Modern Period

  • Editors
  • Anna Winterbottom
  • Facil Tesfaye

Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)

About this book


This interdisciplinary work, the first of two volumes, presents essays on various aspects of disease, medicine, and healing in different locations in and around the Indian Ocean from the ninth century to the early modern period. Themes include theoretical explanations for disease, concepts of fertility, material culture, healing in relation to diplomacy and colonialism, public health, and the health of slaves and migrant workers. Overall, the books argue that, throughout the period of study, the Indian Ocean has been the site of multiple interconnected medical interactions that may be viewed in the context of the environmental factors connecting the region. The two volumes are the first to use the Indian Ocean World as a geographical and conceptual framework for the study of disease. It will appeal to academics and graduate students working in the fields of medical and scientific history, as well as in the growing fields of Indian Ocean studies and global history.


colonialism early modern period health history India Java medical knowledge

About the authors

Anna Winterbottom is a British Academy Research Fellow at the Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex and Research Associate of the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill, Canada. She is author of Hybrid Knowledge in the Early East India Company World  and co-editor of The East India Company and the Natural World.

Facil Tesfaye is an Assistant Professor and Director of the African Studies Programme of the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Statistique(s) et génocide au Rwanda: La genèse d'un système de catégorisation génocidaire.

Bibliographic information


“The collection provides a sampling of various kinds of medical theory and practice found historically in parts of the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia on the littoral of the Indian Ocean. … All of the volume’s essays are thorough and engaging, and bring much novel research to the anglophone scholarly community.” (Shireen Hamza, British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 49 (4), December, 2016) 

“Studies of maritime worlds have grown in prevalence in recent decades, and this volume is a welcome addition to those concerned with the Indian Ocean, especially since it uses the region to think about processes involving medicine and healing that are usually confined to nations or empires. … it works as a geographical catch-all for a wide-ranging subject, and by juxtaposing the work of diverse scholars in several fields of study the editors have created a very a stimulating conversation.” (Harold J. Cook, The International Journal of Maritime History, Vol. 28 (4), 2016)

“The selection of papers represents a truly interdisciplinary mix of history, anthropology and even archaeology, which is both refreshing and challenging to the reader in equal measure . . . (This is) a fascinating book which places a unique focus on medical histories within the Indian Ocean World.”
-Helen Sweet, Professor of History, Oxford University, England