The “Moghul’s Admiral”: Angrian “Piracy” and the Rise of British Bombay

in Journal of Early Modern History
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This article explores the political and legal construction of the concept of piracy in British India. By examining the discourses promulgated and policies enacted in the Bombay Presidency in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, it shows how the seemingly paradoxical designation of coastal polities as “piratical states” opened up new paths for imperial domination. Rather than territorial conquest heralding new claims to maritime sovereignty, it was Britain’s piracy strategy that brought about the subordination of a growing number of Indian rulers to the dictates of the Company. This revised perspective recommends a wider rethinking of the role of so-called piracy in European imperial expansion in Asia.

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