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Centre for South Asian Studies: Events


Dr Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) and Women’s Medical Education in Edinburgh: The role of India

Dr Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) and Women’s Medical Education in Edinburgh: The role of India
Speaker: Roger Jeffery # UoE
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Date and Time
16th Nov 2017 16:00 - 16th Nov 2017 17:30
6th Floor Staff Room, Chrystal Macmillan Building


Elsie Inglis is best known – in Edinburgh and in Serbia – as the founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, which operated in France, Romania, Russia and Serbia from 1914-1919. An Elsie Inglis memorial maternity hospital operated in Edinburgh from 1925-1988. As a suffragist, she worked within the Liberal Party for feminist issues, in addition to carrying on a successful medical practice in Edinburgh. But the less well-known story of her medical education provides an insight into the roles played by India in Edinburgh between 1880 and 1914. Elsie herself was born in Naini Tal in north India, and came to Edinburgh in 1879 with her parents and siblings. In 1889, the networks they developed helped to overcome a crisis in women’s medical education in the city. This paper will discuss how the idea of India’s medical needs, an Indian-returned ‘cabal’ in Edinburgh, and mission, especially the perceived need for women medical missionaries, formed a strong assemblage that played a crucial role in the second phase of the struggle for a complete women’s medical education in Edinburgh. The paper concludes by considering the argument put forward by Antoinette Burton in 1996, when she described the role played by the imagery of India’s suffering women in the struggle for women’s medical education in London, 1874-1885. What becomes visible if we broaden the time horizon to 1869-1914, and take Scotland, and more especially, Edinburgh, as our focus? Did the women trained in Edinburgh go to India? And how did the women of India respond to their presence?

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