Cholera, Commerce, and the Ka'aba

Saurabh Mishra

in Pilgrimage, Politics, and Pestilence

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780198070603
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080007 | DOI:
Cholera, Commerce, and the Ka'aba

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In 1865 the first massive epidemic of cholera occurred in Mecca and caused havoc in various countries of Europe. Brought by the pilgrims, the disease seemed to travel fast and deep into territories that had earlier been sanitarily inviolate. What was seen in many European countries as self-evident and obvious was strongly challenged by the colonial Indian state which took exception to the portrayal of pilgrims from South Asia as disease carriers. The Europeans' desire to stop cholera in its tracks thus faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in the shape of the British Indian state. This chapter explores the differences between these two stands. It examines the commercial dimension of the Haj in detail and its connections with medical measures and disease definitions. It explores the links between subjects such as Indian cholera theories, commerce, and the rise of a public health administration in India.

Keywords: cholera; epidemic; pilgrims; Indian state; public health administration; commerce; disease carriers; Europe

Chapter.  11827 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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