5pm - 8pm

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Reassessing the Impact of Eastern Philosophy on Victorian Narratives of Vivisection and Vegetarianism

In the late nineteenth century, public awareness about animal experimentation had reached a peak in Britain, and had spread to many of her colonies, as India. Animal experimentation became a sensitive issue in Britain during this time, with the rise of laboratory medicine and the attendant vaccine researches of Louis Pasteur. Science and animal rights have forever had conflicting claims and been rife with debates, conflicts and moral crises. There was a rising strong and vociferous anti-vivisection movement, committed to the protection of laboratory animals in Britain


Teaching block room 10
10 TB 00
University of Surrey
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  • Dr Oindrila Ghosh

The Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in response to recommendations coming from that and, in its wake, several anti-vivisection societies, including the Vivisection Society were founded at around 1876. [i] Along with adopting animals as subjects of science, British residents in India had also been known to express strong compassion for Indian animals. In 1861, Colesworthey Grant (1813–80), a British painter and resident of Calcutta, established the first Indian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (SPCA).  The most important contribution of the Indian SPCA (Calcutta) was the introduction of the Cruelty against Animals legislation. It had urged the Bengal government to pass the first Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for Bengal in 1869. The fin de siècle then, was an interesting period when the animal welfare consciousness present in Britain from the eighteenth century was reaching a pinnacle, and spilling over to the intellectual milieus of countries which were part of the empire.


[i] Susan Hamilton. ‘Reading and the Popular Critique of Science in the Victorian Anti-Vivisection Press: Frances Power Cobbe's Writing for the Victoria Street Society’. Victorian Review, Fall 2010, Vol. 36, No. 2, Natural Environments (Fall 2010), pp. 66-79