School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Samiksha Sehrawat

Lecturer in the History of Medicine and South Asia



I work on the history of the rapidly expanding colonial medical infrastructure at the national, provincial and local levels by examining how the colonial state viewed provision of health care for Indians. My research shows that ideologies of rule were challenged by emerging discourses of anti-colonial nationalism and by professional groups. Another running theme in my work has been the interaction between the rural and urban areas of north India, informed by my experience of growing up in a village in Delhi. My research explores the social history of hospitals through the experiences of Indian troops (‘sepoys’) and rural Indian women in the twentieth century. In this, a central concern has been the influence of constructions of ethnicity and gender on health care in the military and in women’s hospitals.  


D.Phil. in History, University of Oxford, 2006
M.A. in Modern Indian History, University of Delhi, 2001
B.A. (Hons) History, University of Delhi, 1999

Previous Positions

John Anderson Research Lecturer, History Department, University of Strathclyde, 2006-2010
Research Officer, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford, 2006


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Member of Advisory Committee, European Association of South Asian Studies 

Member of Executive Council, Society for the Social History of Medicine

Conference Coordinator, Society for the Social History of Medicine

Honours and Awards

Felix Scholarship, 2001-2003
Overseas Research Scholarship, 2001-2003
Grants awarded by the Beit Fund, University of Oxford, 2005, 2003, 2002
Designated Studentship in Modern History, the Modern History Faculty, University of Oxford, 2004
Harrison Graduate Scholarship, St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, 2004
Lala Ram Mohan Prize for the best graduate student in History, University of Delhi, 2001
Balaji Gold Medals, Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, 2000, 2001


Research Interests

Indian, Colonial, Imperial, Gender, Urban and Environmental history
History of medicine with a focus on the history of hospitals
The history of warfare and military medicine
Medical professionalization

Public Outreach

I have been involved in the following outreach activities:
‘Medical History of British India: Disease Prevention and Public Health’, Wellcome Trust funded collaboration with the National Library of Scotland (2006-7): I collaborated with the NLS on the website ‘Medical History of British India: Disease Prevention and Public Health’,, which makes rare official publications available online free of charge for use by both academic and lay audiences. My inputs included advice on online academic use of the website, website design, authoring the complete content for the website and contextualization of the archival collection for lay users.
Brighton and Howe Museum on Public Engagement related to the First World War Hospitals for Indian Troops in Brighton (2008-10): I acted as academic consultant to a successful Wellcome Trust Resource Enhancement application by the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton.

I was featured on British Scholar in October 2011: British Scholar Newsletter Featured Scholar 

Current Work

I am currently working on a British Academy funded project ‘History of Women’s Hospitals in Colonial India, c.1885-1920’. This project explores the twentieth century history of the Dufferin Fund, the Association of Medical Women in India (AMWI) and the foundation of the Women’s Medical Service in India. It will examine the intermeshing of the colonial state with ‘non-governmental’ philanthropic organizations seeking to improve health care for Indian women. Vicereines acting as incorporated wives and white women doctors acting as medical experts shaped ideas of ‘zenana’ health care in line with imperial ideologies. My research further shows that by criticizing the ‘improving’ colonial state for inadequate intervention, the AMWI sought to expand the role of female doctors in health care.

Future Research

I plan to expand my research in three areas. I will further explore the lives of British missionary women doctors and their interaction with Indian women. The rural recruitment of troops for the Indian army is another area of interest. Important themes include the flow of experiences from military settings (including the First World War) to north Indian villages, changes in military health care and the construction of the ethnicity of Indian soldiers. I am working on orality and the social history of rural Haryana. This work will focus on women’s folksongs, rural genealogists, oral traditions recorded by colonial ethnographers and the oral transmission of knowledge by ‘wise women’ and other folk medical specialists.

Esteem Indicators

I have been invited to present papers at the University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (India), German Historical Institute (London), University of Kent, National Army Museum (London) and the National Library of Scotland.


British Academy Small Research Grant, 2010
Co-Applicant for Wellcome Trust Enhancement Grant for Centre for Social History of Health and Health care, Strathclyde, 2008, Wellcome Trust.

Ph.D. Supervision 

I welcome students working on colonial medical history, South Asian history, imperial history, especially gender history, military history and the history of the army.   


Undergraduate Teaching

HIS3126 Women and Social Reform: South Asia, c.1800-1950
HIS2133 Society and Politics in Colonial India: 1880s-1947
HIS1030 Evidence and Argument

HIS3000 Reading History 

Postgraduate Teaching

SHS8025 Special Study Module ‘The History of Health and Colonial Medicine in South Asia’ and 'The Hospital in History' and 'Hospitals in History'
SHS8024 Introduction in the History of Medicine (team taught)
HIS8024 Practice of History (team taught)