The Agency of Empire: Connections and Strategies in French Overseas Expansion (1686-1746)

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In 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.

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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: Itinerario (43:1).
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
 2Metropolitan Directors
 3Upward Social Mobility and the Chamber of Justice
 4Safe Investment? Institutional Factors
 5Market Acces 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.