The Transition to a Colonial Economy: Weavers, Merchants and Kings in South India, 1720-1800

Overview

"According to popular belief, poverty and low standards of living have been characteristic of India for centuries. In a challenge to this view, Prasannan Parthasarathi demonstrates that, until the late eighteenth century, laboring groups in South India, those at the bottom of the social order, were actually in a powerful position, receiving incomes well above subsistence. The subsequent decline in their economic fortunes, the author asserts, was a process initiated towards the end of that century, with the rise of British colonial rule. Building
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Overview

"According to popular belief, poverty and low standards of living have been characteristic of India for centuries. In a challenge to this view, Prasannan Parthasarathi demonstrates that, until the late eighteenth century, laboring groups in South India, those at the bottom of the social order, were actually in a powerful position, receiving incomes well above subsistence. The subsequent decline in their economic fortunes, the author asserts, was a process initiated towards the end of that century, with the rise of British colonial rule. Building on recent scholarly reinterpretations of eighteenth-century India, he examines the transformation of Indian society and its economy under British rule through the prism of the laboring classes, arguing that their treatment during this transition had no precedent in the pre-colonial past and that poverty and low wages were a direct product of colonial rule. This represents a powerful revisionist statement on the role of Britain in Indian which will be of interest not only to students of the region, but also to economic and colonial historians."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Parthasaranthi's study of cotton textile weavers of South India during the eighteenth century comprises an important addition to the extensive historical literature on early modern South Asia—particularly the period that witnessed the transition to the early colonial state of the English East India Company. Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...crisply written, deeply researched, and analytically powerful study of South India....An important contribution of Parthasarathi's book is that it makes politics and political norms central to our understanding of social and economic change..."

—Robert Travers, Cornell University

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of tables; Acknowledgements; Note on Indian words and place names; Note on money; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Weavers and merchants 1720-1760; 2. Agriculture and cotton textiles; 3. Weaver distress 1765-1800; 4. Weaver protest; 5. Labourers, kings and colonialism; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.

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