Merchants, institutions and the market: changes in the salt trade in early colonial Bengal
This paper explores the transformation of the economy and society in early colonial Bengal, roughly between c.1780 and c.1840, through a case study of the salt trade and its changes. It argues that several private trade institutions, particularly various types of intermediaries at different stages of transactions and multi-caste elite organisations, enabled a large flow of commodities, cash, credit and information despite regional and functional divisions in the market as well as social divisions among merchants. The coming of the British led to an expansion of the market and opened up various commercial opportunities to the socially inferior eamateurf merchants, and this led to a confusion in mercantile communities and necessitated a new order among them. By strengthening the functions of those private trade institutions and utilising the new British legal system, mercantile communities managed to accommodate these new merchants and respond to the increased volume of trade.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2008|
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