Pallavi Das

I am Pallavi Das, a fresh PhD graduate specialising in the history of science and medicine. I defended my doctoral thesis early this month, i.e., in July 2023, which was submitted to the University of Delhi (India). I hold an M.Phil degree, also from the University of Delhi and a Master’s Degree from Ambedkar University, Delhi.

I have presented papers at various national and international conferences & seminars organised by some renowned universities that include, the University of Oxford (UK), University of Cambridge (UK), University of Southampton (UK), University of Delhi (India) and Ashoka University (India). I was also invited to deliver a talk by the graduate research forum of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore.

In January 2023, I had the privilege to be part of the international medical history workshop ‘Medicalizing the Past: Colonial, Imperial and International Spaces’ organized by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) and jointly funded by the European Research Council, Israel Science Foundation and the University of Haifa. More recently, I have been selected for the upcoming BASAS workshop on ‘How to write about Non-Humans’ to be conducted this month. My research articles have been published on both academic and non-academic platforms.


My PhD research explored the history of nineteenth century cholera pandemics focusing on four select localities that were either colonies or protectorates of the British empire. It looked at how disease exchange fostered lateral networks of intellectual interaction between different parts of the empire, influencing the understanding and management of cholera. Bringing spatially embedded micro-histories in conversation with the wider canvas of Indian Ocean studies, my thesis thus examined how the colonial administration, scientific research and social management of cholera in these regions evolved within a ‘trans-local’ frame.

The objective of my study was to bridge the gap between the ‘local’ and ‘global’ histories while challenging Eurocentric diffusionist narratives of ‘Western medicine’. It underscored the importance of interactions beyond Europe and argued that ‘modern Western science’ was deeply intertwined with diverse knowledge networks, both formal and informal, that spanned colonies, protectorates, and metropoles, and shaped disease epidemiology.

Additionally, I am also involved in a collaborative project that delves into the history of locust infestations in colonial India.

Areas of Study

History of Medicine and Public Health; Environmental history; Modern South Asian history; Global history & Indian Ocean World Studies.