Organic Psyche Against Colonialism? Notes from Late Colonial India

In the latter years of colonial rule, Indian psychiatrists experimented- conceptually and clinically- with materialist concepts of self and psyche. In the process, they reimagined the relationship between the self, social world, and historical processes, diverging from culturalist orientations to difference, and offering organic minds in (quiet) response to the racializing architectures of colonial psychiatry. This paper charts this conceptual terrain in late colonial India, exploring the ways organic models reimagined psyches and, in the process, ask us to rethink our own critical paradigms.

Sarah Pinto is Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University. She is author of The Doctor and Mrs. A. Ethics and Counter-Ethics in an Indian Dream Analysis (Fordham University Press and Women Unlimited 2019), Daughters of Parvati: Women and Madness in Contemporary India (University of Pennsylvania Press 2014) and Where There Is No Midwife: Birth and Loss in Rural India (Berghahn 2008). She works on gender, kinship, and the intersection of medical practices with intimate lives. She is currently researching on the history of hysteria in India.