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The Origins of the British Empire in Asia, 1600–1750
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Book description

This is an important, revisionist account of the origins of the British Empire in Asia in the early modern period. David Veevers uncovers a hidden world of transcultural interactions between servants of the English East India Company and the Asian communities and states they came into contact with, revealing how it was this integration of Europeans into non-European economies, states and societies which was central to British imperial and commercial success rather than national or mercantilist enterprise. As their servants skilfully adapted to this rich and complex environment, the East India Company became enfranchised by the eighteenth century with a breadth of privileges and rights – from governing sprawling metropolises to trading customs-free. In emphasising the Asian genesis of the British Empire, this book sheds new light on the foreign frameworks of power which fuelled the expansion of Global Britain in the early modern world.


‘David Veevers' book settles several long-standing debates about whether the origins of the East India Company's empire lay in Europe or Asia. He also shows convincingly how the relationship between the two came to re-shape each.'

David Washbrook - Trinity College, University of Cambridge

‘In this exceptionally detailed and extensively researched work, Veevers astutely traces the origins of the East India Company's empire through over a century of complex encounters with people and polities across Asia, amplifying the ever-loudening death knell for the notion that that empire somehow only emerged, suddenly and unexpectedly, at the Battle of Plassey.'

Philip Stern - Duke University, North Carolina

‘David Veevers' book will appeal to students and scholars of the early modern British Empire by offering a sophisticated and compelling discussion of the circumstances in which European empire-building in Asia took place in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, fully alive to the nuances and complexities of those processes.'

John McAleer - University of Southampton

‘… detailed narrative of these British men’s perceptions enriches ongoing scholarly debates.’

M. H. Fisher Source: Choice

‘… a well-researched study of the practice of the early British presence in Asia.’

Jeremy Black Source: The Critic

‘Veevers provides richly detailed examples to reinforce his argument and convince the reader ... The Origins of the British Empire in Asia is a deeply researched and well-written monograph that makes an important contribution to the historiography of the British empire.’

Michael D. Bennett Source: Journal of British Studies

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