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The Political Economy Of Textiles In Western India: Weavers, Merchants And The Transition To A Colonial Economy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyzes the structure of textile production in late eighteenth century western India, to understand the responses of merchants and manufacturers to the disciplining weight of the early colonial state and its consequences for the region's commercial society. It examines the nature of relations between labour and capital in the half century of transition to colonial rule. The chapter identifies the strategies that both merchants and manufacturers deployed to deal with the changing situation and analyses the way in which these reflected the inherent anxieties of transitional politics. It concentrates on Surat and its immediate vicinity in south Gujarat, the principal manufacturing centre for cotton textiles and an area which escaped the direct subjugation of British rule until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Commercial society in Gujarat was a multi-tiered one, accommodating a miscellany of castes and ethnic groups.

Keywords: colonial rule; Gujarat; merchants; Surat; textile production; western India



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