Fellows' Presentation

Bodies in Translation

The Story of Hysteria in India, and the Ways Medicine Moves
Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo

Part of the 2013–2014 Fellows Presentation Series


Sarah Pinto’s work explores the transnational history of the medical disorder “hysteria,” looking in particular at hysteria’s development and transformations in India, a setting in which it has maintained a long and rich presence. Tracing hysteria from early Ayurvedic texts to contemporary clinics and asking how it has taken shape as a medical diagnosis, scientific fact, gendered form of distress, and cultural idea, she asks what hysteria’s non-Western history tells us about the movability and multiplicity of medicine. She proposes in particular that hysteria’s Indian history destabilizes concepts of “universal” and “particular” that are foundational to scientific knowledge.