Thomas Parkinson

PhD candidate

Thomas Parkinson has a BA in History from Sheffield and a MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from Cambridge. Tom is interested in global histories of disability, science, and medicine, especially in South Asia. His MPhil dissertation won the C. A. Bayly Dissertation Prize (2020) and the Royal Historical Society's Rees Davies Prize (2021), and his PhD is funded by a Gonville/Bauer Studentship (2021-24). Tom co-convenes the Faculty's World History Workshop, and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Royal Anthropological Institute (2022-3).

Tom's PhD research is supervised by Sujit Sivasundaram, and it focuses on speech impairment in nineteenth-century India. It looks at how disabled speech was subjected to clinical treatment and scientific research in British India, and it traces a political, a colonial, and a South Asian history of speaking 'incorrectly'. Tom's work is specifically concerned with neurological 'disorders' like aphasia, and how constructions of them related to processes of colonisation and colonial knowledge-making. His research attempts to disrupt traditional geographies of the sciences of the mind, and ask fundamental questions about the medicalisation of difference and the making of disability.

Natural Science Tripos Part II, Paper 3: Modern Medicine and Life Sciences, 2022–24, Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Natural Science Tripos Part II, Paper 2: Sciences and Empires, 2022–24, Department of History and Philosophy of Science

History Tripos Part II, Paper 1: Historical Argument and Practice, 2022-23, Gonville & Caius College

'Disability and the Colonial State: The Establishment of the Calcutta Deaf and Dumb School, c.1893', Disability History and Policy Symposium, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge (11 December 2023)

'"A race of deaf-mutes": Speech Disability in British Anthropology, c. 1854-1890', Modern British History Workshop, University of Cambridge (30 November 2023)

'Colonial Aphasia: A Material History', American Association for the History of Medicine Annual Meeting, Ann Arbor (13 May 2023)

'Speech Impairment and Empire, in History and in Theory', The Cultural History Workshop, University of Cambridge (3 May 2023)

'Speech Impairment in History and Historiography', British Association for South Asian Studies Annual Conference, Leeds (3 April 2023)

'Postcolonialism, Disability History, and the Trouble with Metaphor', International History Research Seminar, London School of Economics and Political Science (8 March 2023)

'Better than forgetting: Disabled speech and postcolonial theory', The Cambridge History of Memory and Emotions Workshop, University of Cambridge (6 February 2023)

'Tropical aphasiology: theorising language loss in British India', British Society for the History of Science Annual Conference, Belfast (21 July 2022)


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