Reply To: 1. Mon 3 Feb: Course intro & India and the Environmental History of Imperialism

Start Forums Courses Current Debates and Themes in Global Environmental History 1. Mon 3 Feb: Course intro & India and the Environmental History of Imperialism Reply To: 1. Mon 3 Feb: Course intro & India and the Environmental History of Imperialism

Author Replies # Posted on February 5, 2014 at 12:55

Response to Nisa’s Reflection

Your reflection is very thoughtful and helpful as it draws out clearly one of the key themes in the book in a very lucid way.

I have two thoughts which might contribute to taking your reflection further. The first is when you suggest that the British annexed land which was unassessed. I wonder, though, whether this slightly simplifies the argument which the book was trying to make in the sense that it was the lack of stable output / revenue from the land – assessed or unassessed – which undermined some of the British attempts to exert control. In this sense I think your discussion with Mikael is relevant, as it would seem to me to be useful to consider a Foucauldian element to the nature or absence of power in relation to the subjects discussed (Fiscal or otherwise) in the book. By which I mean that it seems important to understand further how the people in the region experienced the different types of power imposed upon them by different actors, and how this then relates back to the question of land annexation. What does it mean to say that the British annexed the land? How did that affect the experiences of those who lived on it if there were no taxes being levied?

The second area which your reflection illuminates is the overlap and interactions between bureaucracy and mercantilism, or ‘corporate bureaucracy’ as you put it. One thing which is discussed in the book is that the individual merchants continued to make themselves very rich – for example Lindsey through limestone. Gunnel emphasised this in her lecture. This might lead us to ask the question of why the same people were poor at governing and good at making money. I think this bears on your argument that the ‘corporate bureaucracy’ was dysfunctional because it had mercantile characteristics. It is an interesting feature of this argument that those same characteristics – when not applied to governance – were extremely succesful (in financial terms, for the British), while they failed to be so when attempting to govern. A clearer disaggregation of the mercantilism and the bureaucracy might help in this regard.

All in all a really helpful reflection which certainly made me understand the book better.