Drop the Demon Dai: Maternal Mortality and the State in Colonial Madras, 1840-1875 — Lang 18 (3): 357 — Social History of Medicine

Drop the Demon Dai: Maternal Mortality and the State in Colonial Madras, 1840–1875

Seán Lang

Anglia Polytechnic University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT, UK. E-mail: sf_lang@hotmail.com

Writing on midwifery and women’s health in nineteenth-century India has concentrated on the role of medical missionaries and on voluntary organizations, such as the Countess of Dufferin’s Fund; the role of the state has been generally discounted. However, a close study of government records from Madras Presidency suggests that there was considerable state interest in the issue from the 1840s onwards. This took the form of running and supporting a major lying-in hospital in Madras and smaller lying-in wards at provincial dispensaries, in order to train midwives to work throughout the Presidency. State action was heavily influenced by revulsion at the methods of the dai, the traditional Indian birth attendant. The strategy both at Madras and elsewhere was to replace her with a class of Indian trained midwives who would operate within the community. Various explanations for state interest in the issue are suggested, including political rivalry between the different British Presidencies.

via Drop the Demon Dai: Maternal Mortality and the State in Colonial Madras, 1840-1875 — Lang 18 (3): 357 — Social History of Medicine.

Published by

Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s