Friday, November 3, 2017

Chatterjee on women, monks, and coverture

In 2016, Indrani Chatterjee, University of Texas at Austin, published "Women, Monastic Commerce, and Coverture in Eastern India circa 1600-1800 CE" in Modern Asian Studies 50:1, 175-2016. Here's the abstract:
This article argues that economic histories of the transition to colonial economics
in the eighteenth century have overlooked the infrastructural investments that
wives and widows made in networks of monastic commerce. Illustrative examples
from late eighteenth-century records suggest that these networks competed with
the commercial networks operated by private traders serving the English East
India Company at the end of the eighteenth century. The latter prevailed. The
results were the establishment of coverture and wardship laws interpellated
from British common law courts into Company revenue policies, the demolition
of buildings. and the relocation of the markets that were attached to many of
the buildings women had sponsored. Together, these historical processes made
women’s commercial presence invisible to future scholars.