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Disease, War, and the Imperial StateThe Welfare of the British Armed Forces during the Seven Years' War$
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Erica Charters

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226180007

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226180144.001.0001

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Adaptation and Hot Climates:

Adaptation and Hot Climates:

Fighting in India

Chapter:
(p.142) Chapter Five Adaptation and Hot Climates
Source:
Disease, War, and the Imperial State
Author(s):

Erica Charters

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226180144.003.0006

This chapter examines how the Seven Years War changed the nature of British involvement in India, as demonstrated in the nature of medical practice and theories of disease. It discusses the nature of medical practice in the East India Company before surveying medical care provided to troops and British medical theory concerning India. The chapter then details how medical theory informed campaigns in Bengal and the Carnatic during the Seven Years War and the role of disease in siege warfare in particular. The scale of the Seven Years War drew more British troops to India than ever before, which afforded British medical practitioners and military authorities the opportunity to make observations on an unprecedented scale about the effect of India’s climate on the health of European troops. As a result, British medical theory became more pessimistic about European ability to adapt to India’s climate, suggesting instead that India’s native population was intrinsically, biologically, different. This chapter shows how, through the experience of the war, Britons changed their conceptions of themselves and their relationship to the Indian environment and population.

Keywords:   colonial medicine, East India Company, British Empire, military medicine, siege warfare

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