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Empire of Free Trade: the East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace

by Sen, Sudipta A

  • ISBN: 9780812234268
  • ISBN10: 081223426X

Empire of Free Trade: the East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace

by Sen, Sudipta A

  • List Price: $42.50
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
  • Publish date: 12/01/1997
  • ISBN: 9780812234268
  • ISBN10: 081223426X
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Description: On the eve of the British conquest of India, northern India was rich in marketplaces that served as centers for an extensive and vigorous organization of inland and oceanic trade. Indigenous commercial practice, which the British never fully understood, was based on an intricate network of social, political, and religious relationships. In Empire of Free Trade, Sudipta Sen demonstrates that these marketplaces became the first sites of conflict between the East India Company and the traditional rulers of Bengal (regional representatives of the Mughal empire), as the Company fought to supplant the rulers' authority and "settle" northern Indian centers of trade by establishing powerful customs and police networks. Sen challenges recent histories that portray the Company as a trading corporation drawn unprepared into the exigencies of warfare in order to protect its ability to engage in trade. He demonstrates instead that, from the beginning, the Company attempted to build a strong and intrusive state in India, and that the first decades of colonial rule entailed much more than the preservation of trade. From the beginning the Company attempted, largely by force and subversion, to dismantle and appropriate successful commercial relationships and, with them, the cultural networks on which they were based. Sen argues that the disorganization that resulted from this dismantling helped to prepare the way for the eventual conquest of India.
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