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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter provides a brief overview of the book The Adaptable Peasant: Agrarian Society in Western Sri Lanka under Dutch Rule, 1740-1800 and its chapters. The book attempts to reconstruct some aspects of an early stage of this encounter in a part of the small island of Sri Lanka in the mid-eighteenth century, by which time it had been exposed to two colonial powers, the Portuguese and the Dutch. Its primary focus is the peasant social formation in the western maritime possessions of the Dutch United East India Company (VOC). The historical setting is the encounter between the Company and two major historical actors on the local scene: the peasant cultivators and the indigenous chiefs. The book investigates how these groups responded to the Dutch intervention, and the significant changes they underwent as they adapted to change.

Keywords: Agrarian society; Dutch Rule; Dutch United East India Company (VOC); Western Sri Lanka



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