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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483478
Waltraud Ernst has taught widely on various aspects of history at postgraduate level, contributed to the MA Science, Medicine and Culture, jointly run by the Departments of English, History, and Philosophy at Southampton. She was also in charge of the MA/MRes in History from 2006 to 2008. Her MA teaching included Historiography, Research Skills, Introduction to History, Science-Magic-Religion and Race, Science and Medicine.
At Brookes she has taught the following modules:
History of western science, psychiatry and medicine; inter-relationship between modern medicine and indigenous healing from the eighteenth to the twentieth century; transnational perspectives, global history and culture.
Main historical period covered: c. 1750-2000
In my work on the social history of western medicine and science c. 1750 - 2000, I am particularly interested in the inter-relationship between biomedicine and other paradigms of healing. I am comfortable with applying a multidisciplinary perspective to my research topics and in my writing I explore the various dimensions involved in the construction of what counts as 'health', 'illness' and 'medicine/science' at different times and places: the political/state perspective; institutions; medical professions and 'folk' traditions; the patients' perspective; scientific theories and practices; myths, beliefs and representations.
I have just completed editing a book on Work, Psychiatry and Medicine (Manchester University Press) and a research monograph on Colonialism and Transnational Psychiatry. The case of the Ranchi Indian Mental Hospital in British India, c. 1920-1940 (Anthem). The book on Ranchi is the first comprehensive case study of an Indian mental hospital. It focuses on the largest psychiatric institution in south Asia prior to Indian independence, assessing the demographics of its patient population, death and illness statistics, diagnostic categories and medical treatments. Earlier work has examined the role of British psychiatry within the context of nineteenth-century colonial expansion. This study breaks new ground by exploring how the changing imperial order during the early twentieth century, with a particular focus on the 'Indianisation' of the medical services, affected institutional trends. These local developments are set within the wider purview of transnational networks. Themes covered include gender, culture and race, and changing medical theories, conceptualisations and plural clinical practices within the context of medical standardisation. The limitations of institution-based data and statistical analysis and the pitfalls of post-hoc assessment and comparison of diagnostic categories and classifications are explored. The book is based on a range of original sources, including hospital reports, medical journals and textbooks, and official and private correspondence. It is relevant to historians of colonial and western psychiatry, comparative and transnational history, as well as social historians of south Asia more generally.
I am currently working on my chapters for a jointly authored book on 'Health and Medicine in the Indian Princely States, c. 1850-1950', to be published by Routledge in 2016. The book maps developments in public health, the emergence of specialised medical institutions, the influence of western medicine on indigenous medical communities (and their patients) and the interaction between them. Two comparatively large states (Mysore and Travancore), considered 'progressive' and 'enlightened', and some of the 24 Orissa Princely States, seen as 'backward' and 'despotic', will be at the centre of investigation. Contentious issues currently debated in the existing scholarship on medicine in British India and other colonies will be explored (such as the 'indigenisation' of health services the inter-relationship of colonial and indigenous paradigms of medical practice; the impact of specific political and administrative events and changes on health policies). Developments in public health and the emergence of medical institutions in Princely India will be traced from both Indian and European perspectives, and British medical policies and the Indian reactions and initiatives they evoked in different Princely States with highly varied socio-economic, cultural and administrative set-ups will be examined.
Another book is due to be published by Manchester University Press, on 'Mental Illness and Colonialism. Patients' lives and discourses of power during the age of British imperialism in South Asia, 1800-1947'. I explore the ways in which the lives of mentally ill people and their families were affected by wider social and political circumstances during the age of British imperialism in India and how their stories in turn reflect the socio-political context within which they were set. A close reading of patients' cases and their individual circumstances will be employed. The intention is to illuminate the relations between the personal, and the social and political, in regard to the main discourses that engulfed patients and their families.
Waltraud Ernst was educated at the University of Konstanz, Germany, where she studied Social Sciences, specialising in International Politics, Sociology, and Psychology. She did her dissertation in 1982 in Cultural Psychology (Prof. E.E. Boesch) as an affiliate of the Socio-Psychological Research Centre for Development Planning, University of the Saar, on ethno-psychoanalytical case studies of women migrating from the Meru region in Kenya to Nairobi. This was based on field-work visits to the Meru district during 1980 and 1981. She subsequently worked on a project on "Mad Colonisers" in the Division of "Probleme des Fremdverstehens und inter-kulturelle Kommunikation" in the Sociology Department at Konstanz (Prof. D. Kantowsky). She received her PhD in the History of South Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1987, with a dissertation on psychiatry and mental illness in South Asia, c. 1780-1858 (Prof. Kenneth Ballhatchet). From 1988 to 1989, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Prof. R. Porter) at the Wellcome Institute in London, continuing her work on colonial psychiatry. Following practical work as a Senior Clinical Psychologist at Hutt Hospital and psychotherapist in private practice in Wellington, New Zealand, she worked on the history of Pakeha psychiatry and Maori mental healing in the Department of Sociology at Victoria University Wellington. She joined the Sociology Department at Southampton University in 1994 as a Wellcome University Award Holder, focusing on the comparative historical sociology of mental health and healing in British India and the Pacific. She moved to the History Department at Southampton in 1998 and joined History at Oxford Brookes University in December 2008 as Professor in the History of Medicine, 1700-2000.
This book offers an innovative engagement with the diverse histories of colonial and indigenous medicines. Engagement with different kinds of colonialism and varied indigenous socio-political cultures has led to a wide range of approaches and increasingly distinct traditions of historical writing about colonial and indigenous modes of healing have emerged in the various regions formerly ruled by different colonial powers. The volume offers a much-needed opportunity to explore new conceptual perspectives and encourages critical reflection on how scholars' research specialisms have influenced their approaches to the history of medicine and healing. The book includes contributions on different geographical regions in Asia, Africa and the Americas and within the varied contexts of Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch and British colonialisms. It deals with issues such as internal colonialism, the plural history of objects, transregional circulation and entanglement, and the historicisation of medical historiography. The chapters in the volume explore the scope for conceptual interaction between authors from diverse disciplines and different regions, highlighting the synergies and thematic commonalities as well as differences and divergences.
Adjunct Professor Division of Health and Humanities, St John's Research Institute, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Sarjapur Road, Bangalore, India 560034http://www.stjohns.in/research/