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Pirates, polities and companies: global politics on the Konkan littoral, c.1690-1756

By Derek L. Elliott


This paper examines pre-colonial interaction among polities along the Konkan coast, from Surat to Goa, during the long half-century c.1680-1756. Specifically it uses the dynasty of the Angrias, who were deemed pirates by the European powers but were actually an integral part of the Maratha Confederacy. Scholarship that has dealt with the Angrias has relied on historiography passed down through the English East India Company chroniclers and employees to colonial historians under the British Raj and carried into contemporary times. The result has been a continued Eurocentric interpretation of the Angrias that has obfuscated the geopolitical history of the region. This paper seeks to rectify the situation through a fresh look at British archival evidence coupled with scholarship that has examined the Indian and other European languages primary source material. The Angrias were not pirates preying on the vessels of other nations. Rather, they governed a section of the Marathan Confederacy and sought through a European institution to extend exercise sovereignty over their littoral. The East India Company was unwilling to cede any of their gains of maritime supremacy to the upstart Maratha maritime force. This paper tells the story of how Angria and the East India Company interacted on equal terms through political negotiation, military comparative advantages, and a complex series and ever-changing network of alliances

Topics: HC Economic History and Conditions, JC Political theory, DS Asia
Publisher: Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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