"Collecting Bodies, Body Collectives: Trace Identities in British India, 1918-47"

Projit Bihari Mukharji, University of Pennsylvania

Projit Bihari Mukharji is the Martin Meyerson Assistant Professor in History & Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Roughly, the last three decades of British rule in South Asia produced a host of new scientific ways, such as serology and statistical analysis, for determining the identities of human beings. British administrator-ethnographers, however, were no longer the primary users of these new scientific methods.

Rather, South Asian scientists now enthusiastically embraced these techniques. Their objective was to determine both the “racial history” and the “national futures” of subcontinental populations. This paper will explore how bodily traces, such as blood and bones, were scientifically collected and studied to produce new forms of identities located in the remote past or distant future.