PhD'20 (South Asian history) University of Chicago

Research Interests

South Asian History, early modern & modern; History of Medicine and Science; Islam in South Asia; History and Sociology of the Body; Colonial and Post-colonial History; Global History


PhD in History, University of Chicago (Expected June 2020)
MA, South Asian History, University of Chicago
MSc, Social Anthropology, St Anne’s College, University of Oxford
BSc Honors, Biological Psychology, McMaster University, Canada


The Madrasa Tibbiya and the Reform of Avicennian Medicine in Colonial India, c.1889–1930


Sabrina Datoo’s research on Avicennian medicine in colonial India draws on her training in the natural sciences, anthropology, and the history of Islam in South Asia. Her dissertation project is an intellectual history of the Madrasa Tibbiya in colonial Delhi, established 1889, an institution that proposed an experiment in epistemic pluralism, incorporating Ayurvedic, biomedical, and Avicennian traditions. Her work examines how practitioners of Avicennian medicine situated their reformist educational efforts within global circulations of scientific thought as well as within the local aesthetic and ethical commitments of the north Indian gentry. Datoo’s research has been supported by research fellowships from the American Philosophical Society and the American Institute of Indian Studies. She won the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Association of Asian Studies–Social Science Research Council Dissertation Workshop. Her work has also been supported by grants from various research centers at the University of Chicago, including the Nicholson Center for British Studies, the Center for International Social Science Research, and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies.

In 2018, Datoo translated the Urdu language testimonies of Indian medical practitioners in the Usman Report, a policy document of significant interest to historians of medicine in colonial India. Dagmar Wujastyk, the project director, commissioned the 35,000-word translation, with funding from the University of Vienna. Datoo’s translation will be forthcoming with translations of the other vernacular testimonies in the Dutch periodical, eJournal of Indian Medicine.


—Reviews festschrift to Gail Minault, Hidden Histories: Religion and Reform in South Asia, edited by Syed Akbar Hyder and Manu Bhagavan
Interview by Roanne Kantor for Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal (Aug. 2018)
—Discusses the importance of Urdu medical books in the British Library, Social Science Blog (Sept. 2014)