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I det 17. og 18. århundrede fungerede London som økonomisk centrum for al handel i det Britiske Imperium. I denne periode var der bl.a. meget tætte bånd mellem den indiske by Madras og London.
I bogen undersøger Søren Mentz, hvorledes det lykkedes for de ansatte i det engelske East India Company at drive en omfattende og meget konkurrencedygtig privathandel med England på trods af kompagniets monopol. Mentz påviser bl.a., hvorledes de handlende brugte engelsk kapital til at bygge Madras op til et succesrigt handelscenter. Forfatteren behandler her et hidtil uudforsket område at det Britiske Imperiums historie og viser hvordan dette særlige private handelssamarbejde kunne fungere i kraft af nogle forskellige sociale og kulturelle faktorer.
Søren Mentz er ph.d. i historie fra Københavns Universitet. Han har desuden studeret ved The Delhi School of Economics og har under sit arbejde med bogen besøgt lokale arkiver i både Indien og Storbritannien. I dag er han museumsinspektør på Det Nationalhistoriske Museum på Frederiksborg Slot.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, servants in the East India Company established a private English trading network that was successful and highly competitive. How was this development maintained seeing that the group of private merchants was constantly changing? The answer must be found in the close ties connecting Madras with the City of London. London was the financial centre of the British Empire as well as the generator of overseas expansion. Colonial societies in the West Indies and North America were economically and socially dependent upon the metropolis and so was Madras. This book places the activities of the private merchants in Madras within the framework of the first British Empire. It focuses on a hitherto neglected field of study, uncovering a private trading network, a diaspora, built on gentlemanly capitalism, trust and ethnicity.
Søren Mentz has a PhD in history from the University of Copenhagen. He has been a casual research student at the Delhi School of Economics and has visited local archives in India as well as in Great Britain. His articles have been published in Indian Economic and Social History Review and Itinerario.
Currently, he is curator at Frederiksborgmuseet, The National Historical Museum at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark.
"Mentz' study is stimulating and will inspire others to explore further sources to illuminate aspects of the European private trade in other parts of India that have so far escaped scholar's attention ... Finally, it must be appreciated that the style of writing is consistently lucid, which makes for very pleasant reading."
- Ghulam Ahmad Nadri, University of Leiden, Itineraries, 29:2, 2005
"Mentz' sorgfältige Studie argumentiert, die Forschung habe durch die Fixierung auf die Companie die Rolle des freien Asienhandels unterschätzt und so übersehen, daß im gesamten britischen Empire eine relativ einheitliche Kaufmannskultur bestand, deren treibende Kraft privater Handel war."
- Andreas Fahrmeier, Historische Zeitschrift, Band 281, 2005
"Bogen er velskrevet og til tider underholdende. Der er ingen tvivl om, at diamanthandel og koloniale handelssammenhænge mellem Madras og London efter the Glorious Revoluion er en spændende historie, og Søren Mentz har skrevet et solidt værk om emnet på godt engelsk."
- Pernille Ipsen, Historisk Tidsskrift, Bind 105 Hæfte 2
”His book […] effectively reconstructs from an important and hitherto understudied body of sources an aspect of the lives and finances of these private merchants in Madras and their strong social and economic connections with the City of London during the early colonial period.”
– Michael H. Fisher, Oberling College, American Historical Review
"Mentz is to be congratulated. So-called ‘ Eurocentrism ’ has been much reviled in the literature. He has courageously shown that the metropole, as well as the indigenous location, must be considered as we try to explain the successes (and failures) of the private trade of these merchants."
- Michael Pearson, (University of Technology, Sydney), English Historical Review, cxxi. 492 ( June 2006)
"This volume's major contribution is Mentz' evocation of the social lives and commercial activities of these merchants as they represented themselves in their letters and other private papers, often written to relatives or business partners in England or Scotland. Mentz carefully shows how he has pieced together fragmentary economic and social evidence from these documents, some of which their authors either deliberately obscured or explicitly instructed should be destroyed as betraying evidence of their illicit activities.
... [The book] effectively reconstructs from an important and hitherto understudied body of sources an aspect of the lives and finances of these private merchants in Madras and their strong social and economic connections with the City of London during the early colonial period."
- Michael H. Fischer, Oberlin College, American Historical Review, February 2006
"Alt i alt er bogen et fremragende bidrag til nyvurderingen af Europas betydning for handelsverdenen i Det indiske Ocean."
- Martin Krieger, Nyt fra Historien, forår 2006
"Mentz raises many useful questions and his work should stimulate further research. His spirited engagement with the plethora of debates over the nature of early capitalism and the workings of the East India Company, and his frank discussions regarding the contradictions in and limitations of the available source material would make this useful reading in a graduate seminar on methodology ... the author is successful in presenting an evocative depiction of the methods and conditions - with their potential risks and rewards - under which these early capitalists worked."
- Marilyn Morris, University of North Texas, The Historian, vol. 68, no. 3
"This is a very good book, well-written, nuanced and scholarly."
- Tirthankar Roy, London School of Economics and Political Science, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 44, 2 (2007)
"At the core of this book are findings of originality and great interest.[...]
Søren Mentz helpfully compliments existing work. He does not displace it."
- P.J. Marshall (Kings College, London), The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 33, No. 3
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