European Trade and Colonial Conquest, Volume 1

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Anthem Press, 2005 - History - 398 pages
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This first of three volumes focuses on the evolution of Bengal's economy and society over the entire pre-colonial period beginning from pre-historic days. There is no documented, authentic history of Bengal. Indeed, more of the early history of India can be learned from the writings of other nationals. Yet even this material is very much related to chronologies of regimes and local to urban settlements and centres of trade. There remains little or no information on the villages where the vast majority lived and still live. Furthermore, until this work, little or no consideration has been given to the hugely influential period between Vasco de Gama's journey to India in 1498 and the battle of Palashi in 1757, a period in which the Mughal Empire held political power while the English, Dutch, French and Danes and other European nations grasped and held on to economic power. Much has been written on the Mughal Empire, but little of the role of the European trading companies in the two and a half centuries preceding Clive's victory. This book addresses that void and seeks also to explore the political, social and historical context in Bengal that facilitated the transfer of power into European hands. Given such a lack of source information, the author examines oral history, carried from generation to generation, recognizing their fallibility, but using those histories to corroborate what is known from other sources - from archaeological findings (coins, inscriptions, copper plates) through (invariably biased or localized) accounts from travellers, to economic, agricultural and ecological factors - relating them to known chronological events to provide a well-rounded history and, indeed, a study that uncovers the roots of the many issues in the colonial and post-colonial eras.

 

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Contents

Evolution of the State
27
Up to 1204
52
Communities Culture and State Power
81
Political History 12041757
121
State Power and Land System under the TurkoAfghans
139
the Period Between 1204 and the Midsixteenth Century
170
Communities Cultures and State power
183
Political History
219
Bengal in the Middle Ages as Seen Through Foreign Eyes
228
Trade in Precolonial Bengal
273
the Inside Story of a Fixed Match
304
Notes
335
Glossary
367
Subject Index
389
Author Index
396
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About the author (2005)

Biplab Dasgupta (1940-2005) was Editor of NANDAN magazine. Until his retirement, he was Professor of Economics at Calcutta University, and founder-director of the Centre for Urban Economic Studies there. He was formerly a Member of Parliament (of the Lok Sabha from 1989 and the Rajya Sabha from 1994). He has worked for various UN organizations, including ILO, UNESCO and UNRISD.

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