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‘Inhabitants of the universe’: global families, kinship networks, and the formation of the early modern colonial state in Asia*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2015

David Veevers*
Affiliation:
School of History, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NX, UK E-mail: dv54@kent.ac.uk

Abstract

New research on the early modern colonial state in Asia has emphasized the agency of actors and their networks in a process of state formation, while the rise of global history has similarly highlighted the importance of global connections in forming sites of empire. This article seeks to contribute to this growing literature. It does so by revealing that the families of English East India Company servants, following their counterparts in other European East India companies in Asia, underwent a global transition in which they established Asian-wide networks of kinship, transcending the local and regional spaces in which they had previously operated. Through their increasing ability to operate across the social, cultural, economic, and political borders of Asia, Company kinship networks facilitated the formation of a politically amorphous colonial state. Furthermore, while previous scholarship has confined colonial state formation to the later eighteenth century, this article challenges the historiography by relocating this process to the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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Footnotes

*

I would like to thank Pratik Chakrabarti and Will Pettigrew for their support, encouragement, and guidance. I also thank the editors for their invaluable comments and utmost professionalism, as well as the two anonymous reviewers for the expert and generous feedback they provided on the draft of this article. Finally, I would like to thank seminar audiences at the Colonial/Postcolonial New Researchers’ Workshop at the Institute of Historical Research and in the School of History at the University of Kent, all of whom provided insightful comments during the preparation of the article.

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78 BL, APAC, MSS Eur C387/1, Alexander Forbes to Francis Forbes, London, 11 March 1703. For this dynamic in the Johnstone kinship network, see Rothschild, Inner life, p. 55.

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128 BL, APAC, IOR/A/1/40, ‘His present majestyes charter’, 12 April 1686.

129 Ghosh, Sex and the family, pp. 246–7. For the principle members of this network in the early eighteenth century, see the will of Jonathan White in 1704, in Wilson, Early annals, vol. 1, pp. 350–2.

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131 For these demands, see Records of Fort St George, Letters to Fort St. George, 1681–1765, Madras: Madras Government, 1916–46 (henceforth LTFSG), vol. 8, pp. 35–6, Hugli to Madras, Hugli, 15 December 1684. For the pressure applied to marginal groups, see Prakash, Om, ‘Trade and politics in eighteenth-century Bengal’, in Seema Alavi, ed., The eighteenth century in India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 140–141Google Scholar.

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134 BL, APAC, IOR/E/3/91, court of directors to Bengal, London, 12 December 1687.

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143 Wilson, Early annals, vol. 1, p. 37, Calcutta, 14 April 1698.

144 Wilson, OFW, vol. 1, p. 8, Madras to court of directors, Fort St George, 25 May 1691.

145 BL, APAC, IOR/E/3/93, court of directors to Bengal, London, 20 December 1699.

146 Wilson, OFW, vol. 1, p. 49, Bengal to court of directors, Calcutta, 8 January 1702.

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150 BL, APAC, IOR/E/3/89, court of committees to Madras, London, 27 October 1682.

151 Ibid.

152 Ibid.

153 Ibid.

154 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 31, Balasore road, 19 July 1682.

155 See ibid., vol. 3, p. 163.

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157 Cited in ibid., pp. 27–8.

158 Cited in ibid., p. 30.

159 Cited in ibid., p. 29.

160 Cited in ibid., p. 35.

161 Cited in ibid., p. 36.

162 Ibid., pp. 37–8.

163 WH, Diary, vol. 1, p. 172, Hugli, 23 December 1684.

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166 BL, APAC, IOR/E/3/90, court of committees to Madras, London, 21 December 1683.

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169 Philopatris, , Treatise, p. 26Google Scholar.

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