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  • Tirthankar Roy (a1)

Interpretations of the role of the state in economic change in colonial (1858-1947) and post-colonial India (1947-) tend to presume that the colonial was an exploitative and the post-colonial a developmental state. This article shows that the opposition does not work well as a framework for economic history. The differences between the two states lay elsewhere than in the drive to exploit Indian resources by a foreign power. The difference was that British colonial policy was framed with reference to global market integration, whereas post-colonial policy was framed with reference to nationalism. The article applies this lesson to reread the economic effects of the two types of state, and reflects on ongoing debates in the global history of European expansion.

Las interpretaciones del papel del estado en los cambios económicos de la India colonial (1858-1947) y poscolonial (1947-) tienden a suponer que la India colonial fue un estado explotador y la India postcolonial un estado desarrollista. Este artículo muestra que esta oposición no funciona bien dentro del marco de la historia económica. Las diferencias entre los dos estados se centran en factores distintos al deseo de una potencia extranjera por explotar los recursos de la India. La diferencia reside en que la política colonial británica se construyó en referencia a la integración en el mercado mundial, mientras que la política poscolonial se estructura en torno al nacionalismo. El texto aplica este enfoque a la relectura de los efectos económicos de los dos tipos de estado, y reflexiona sobre los debates en curso acerca de la historia global de la expansión europea.

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The author wishes to thank two referees and the editors of the Revista for comments and suggestions that led to significant improvements on the version submitted. An earlier draft of the paper was presented in a workshop on Colonial Legacies: Persistence and Long-run Impact on Economic Growth, January 2015, held at the Fundación Ramón Areces, Madrid. The author is grateful to the participants and organisers of the workshop for a stimulating discussion and especially to Rafael Dobado González for his constructive comments and criticisms of the paper.


Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK.

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Revista de Historia Economica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History
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  • EISSN: 2041-3335
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