[Talk]Bureaucrats, Smugglers, Peons and Preachers

Bureaucrats, Smugglers, Peons and Preachers – Regulating the Liquor Trade in Late Nineteenth Century India: Local Policy and Global Politics

By PeterHynd, IOWC PhD Student, McGill University

Thursday, 5 February 2015, 5:45 pm, Peterson Hall Rm 116 | 3460 McTavish Street | McGill University

*Reception to follow*

‘The Drink Question’ was a major political issue in Britain and throughout the British Empire during the second half of the nineteenth century. Colonial governments were often forced to shape their policies towards alcohol in response to concerns raised in Britain. In order to safeguard the revenue derived from the abkari (excise taxes) without offending domestic sensibilities, the Government of India adopted ‘maximum revenue from minimum consumption’ as their official guiding principle in regards to alcohol regulation. In execution these regulations, designed from the top down to promote state revenue without offending public opinion, often failed dramatically when faced with local idiosyncrasies and particular problems. Colonial bureaucrats in charge of the abkari, operating with limited resources, were regularly forced to modify and make local exceptions to their own rules and regulations when faced with problems beyond their ability to control. From smugglers and other criminals to religious leaders, from the weather to their own employees, abkari bureaucrats were constantly forced to adapt their policies to fit local circumstances, even if that occasionally meant violating higher principles. This talk will focus on a number of such examples, and explain how and why they are important to histories of colonial governance in late nineteenth century India.

One Hundred Years of Servitude

One Hundred Years of Servitude, Political economy of Tea Plantations in Colonial Assam, Conférence de Rana P. Behal (University of Delhi), avec le soutien de l’AFHMT et du CEIAS.

Mercredi 12 février, 14h-17h, EHESS – Salle 662, 190-198 avenue de France, 75013 Paris
Métro : Quai de la Gare (6) ou Bibliothèque (14)

L’ouvrage récemment publié par Rana P. Behal (One Hundred Years of Servitude – Political Economy of Tea Plantations in Colonial Assam, Tulia Books, New Delhi) revient sur un siècle d’histoire dans les plantations de thé de la vallée d’Assam en Inde, durant la domination coloniale britannique. Les six chapitres du livre étudient la période des années 1840 au milieu du XXe siècle. Au cours de celle-ci, plus de deux millions de travailleurs migrants, soumis à un régime d’asservissement contractuel (indentured servitude), produisirent dans ces plantations le thé destiné à un commerce international de plus en plus lucratif.

La présentation sera suivie d’un débat introduit par ALESSANDRO STANZIANI, Directeur d’études, EHESS-CNRS, CRH.

Contacts : Paul Boulland / Vanessa Caru

New Series in Labour History

Amsterdam University Press is announcing the birth of a new Series entitled “Social Histories of Work in Asia”.

The objective of the series is to encourage historical studies into the role and the position of labour in the dynamics of Asian societies, preferably from a longue durée perspective. The series will encourage studies into different types of labour (indentured, share cropping, self-employed, casual, precarious etc.) in different economic and cultural contexts. The range of themes includes the circulation of labour, free and unfree labour, gender and labour relations, labour conditions and labour laws and collective action. The series will include work from different humanities and social science disciplines that approach their subject from an historical angle.

For more information, click here