The Peasant Production of Opium in Nineteenth-Century India

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The Peasant Production of Opium in Nineteenth-Century India is a pioneering work about the more than one million peasants who produced opium for the colonial state in nineteenth-century India. Based on a profound empirical analysis, Rolf Bauer not only shows that the peasants cultivated poppy against a substantial loss but he also reveals how they were coerced into the production of this drug. By dissecting the economic and social power relations on a local level, this study explains how a triangle of debt, the colonial state’s power and social dependencies in the village formed the coercive mechanisms that transformed the peasants into opium producers. The result is a book that adds to our understanding of peasant economies in a colonial context.

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EUR €116.00USD $139.00

Biographical Note

Rolf Bauer, PhD (2018), University of Vienna, is currently a lecturer in Economic and Social History, South Asian Studies and International Development at that university. He has previously published on the opium industry in nineteenth-century India.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements
List of Illustrations and Tables
Glossary
Units of Measurement

1 Introduction
2 The Creation of a System
 2.1 A Chronology of the British Opium Monopoly in India
 2.2 A Further Note on Bengal and Malwa: Two Opium Economies Intermingled
 2.3 Keystone of Empire
 2.4 Opium and China
 2.5 Auctions
 2.6 The Sudder Factories
3 The Functioning of a System
 3.1 The Opium Department: A Centralised Bureaucratic Structure
 3.2 The Settlement
 3.3 Laws and Fines
 3.4 Local Collaboration
4 A Local-Level Analysis of an Opium District: Saran
 4.1 Topography and General Aspects Related to Agriculture
 4.2 The People of Saran
 4.3 Distribution of Land Proprietorship and Tenancy
 4.4 Crops
5 The Costs and Benefits of Poppy Cultivation
 5.1 Poppy within Bihar’s Agriculture
 5.2 Agricultural Operations of Poppy Cultivation
 5.3 Who Cultivated Poppies?
 5.4 Costs and Benefits: An Assessment
6 The Mechanics of a System: Incentives, Coercion and Dependence
 6.1 The System of Advance Payments
 6.2  Sarkar—By Order of the Government
 6.3  Zamindar—Triadic Relations
7 Conclusion

Appendix
Bibliography
Index

Readership

All readers interested in the economic and social history of British India, the history of drugs, and anyone concerned with peasant studies and coercive labour relations.

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