The Agency of Empire: Connections and Strategies in French Expansion (1686-1746) Elisabeth Heijmans places directors and their connections at the centre of the developments and operations of French overseas companies. The focus on directors’ decisions and networks challenges the conception of French overseas companies as highly centralized and controlled by the state.
Through the cases of companies operating in Pondicherry (Coromandel Coast) and Ouidah (Bight of Benin), Elisabeth Heijmans demonstrates the participation of actors not only in Paris but also in provinces, ports and trading posts in the French expansion. The analysis brings to the fore connections across imperial, cultural and religious boundaries in order to diverge from traditional national narratives of the French early modern empire.
Elisabeth Heijmans, Ph.D. (2018), Leiden University, is post-doctoral researcher in Economic and Social History. She published ‘Investing in French Overseas Companies: A Bad Deal? The Liquidation Processes of Companies Operating on the West Coast of Africa and in India (1664–1719)’ in:
Acknowledgements General Series Editor’s Preface List of Abbreviations List of Maps, Tables, Figures and Graphs Glossary Introduction 1When Principals Become Agents 1Structure and Continuity
3Upward Social Mobility and the Chamber of Justice
4Safe Investment? Institutional Factors
s 2Overseas Directors as Mediators 1Overseas and Company Contexts
2Trading Systems and Commercial Actors in Pondicherry and Ouidah
3Multiplicity of Interests within Companies
3Cross-cultural Relations with Rulers 1Sovereign Powers
2Negotiating Cross-cultural Relations
3Competition and Foreign Intermediaries
4Inter-imperial Cooperation 1European Power Dynamics
2Means of Cooperation
3Motives of Cooperation
4Nuances of Competitive Interactions
5Attempts at Self-sustainability 1Accessing Funds
2Integrating Regional Trading Networks
Conclusion Bibliography Index
All interested in the history of European expansion in the early modern period, and anyone concerned specifically with inter-imperial interactions, cross-cultural relations and French overseas companies.