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Passage through India: global vaccination and British India, 1800-1805

Bennett, MJ 2007 , 'Passage through India: global vaccination and British India, 1800-1805' , Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 35, no. 2 , pp. 201-220 , doi:

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Between 1798 and 1805 the novel practice of vaccination spread rapidly around the globe,
and its first introduction into India needs to be seen as the initiative of Edward Jenner and
his followers rather than imperial policy. Against a background of military and imperial
expansion, however, the British in India and Ceylon supported vaccination with resources
and energy lacking at home. This paper examines the technical problems associated with
the establishment of vaccination, the promotional and organisational strategies deployed,
and the varied responses of the local population. The results were spectacular, with a
million vaccinations – more than in Europe – by 1807, but the initial momentum
was hard to maintain, not least because many Indians found the procedure intrusive
and religiously offensive. Vaccination created new tensions in Anglo-Indian relations
that anticipated and merged with the issues of imperial medicine that later became so
salient in India. Nevertheless, the early campaigns established the practice firmly in
parts of India and provided lessons, and inspiration for the vaccination cause worldwide.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Bennett, MJ
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISSN: 0308-6534
DOI / ID Number:
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