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Regional and Thematic Case Studies 1: South Asia and the Wider World (David Hardiman)

For discussion

The three core readings raise a number of questions that will be discussed during this session. These can be summarised as follows:


What were the main features of the ‘early modern period’ in South Asia, and how did these connect with neighbouring regions?

Is the unit ‘South Asia’ a helpful one when dealing with this period?

How can global history go beyond the boundaries of modern nation states?


What does Sea of Poppies tell us about the way that the East India Company operated in India? How did British East India Company officials view the Indian people? How did it operate social controls? Who acted as intermediaries?

What was the role of indentured labour, and what was its relationship to the slave trade?

How did the opium trade operate? Are there parallels between a trade that rests on creating addiction and trades that encourage new forms of consumerism?

How did Christian missionaries link up with all this?

What do the lascars tell us about global history?



Core reading

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Connected Histories: Notes Towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia’, Modern Asian Studies, 31/3 (1997), pp. 735-762.

Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies (London: John Murray 2008). (This is a novel that opens up some important questions that will be discussed in this session).

Amitav Ghosh, ‘Of Fanás and Forecastles: The Indian Ocean and Some Lost Languages of the Age of Sail’, Economic and Political Weekly, 21 June 2008, pp. 56-62.

Other reading

C. Bayly, Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire (Cambridge, 1988).

C. Bayly, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 1780-1830 (London, 1989).

C. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World 1780-1914 (Oxford, 2004).

Burton Stein, A History of India (Blackwell, 1998).