Friday, January 18, 2019

Siddiqi on insolvents in Bombay

Asiya Siddiqi, University of Mumbai, published Bombay's People, 1860-98: Insolvents in the City with Oxford University Press in 2018. From the publisher: 

Bombay’s People, 1860–98Caught in the web of global economic fluctuations, Bombay experienced a cataclysmic financial crisis in the 1860s. Before the crash the city’s economy was heavily dependent on the trade in cotton. By 1865 the price of cotton plummeted, and with it the fortunes of Bombay’s people. Even people not directly involved in the cotton trade were affected. Thousands declared themselves insolvent and sought the protection of the Bombay High Court. Drawing on almost twenty thousand petitions of insolvents, Asiya Siddiqi explores a crucial phase of transformations in Indian economy and society.  
Situating her study in the early colonial period of constant negotiations between local, colonial, and global relationships, Siddiqi maps patterns of income, literacy levels, and connections between religion and occupation. She not only analyses the finances of the wealthy and the powerful but also of working people, including women insolvents—a majority of whom were courtesans and dancing and singing girls. From this scrutiny is revealed the workings of the complex and dynamic financial relationships among Bombay’s people in the late nineteenth century. 
Here is the Table of Contents: 

  • 1. Business and Social Relationships in Nineteenth-Century Bombay 
  • 2. The Bigger Merchants 
  • 3. Reading the Records: Literacy and Social–Occupational Stratification 
  • 4. Religion and Occupation 
  • 5. Insolvent Women 
  • 6. Ayesha’s World: A Butcher’s Family in Nineteenth-Century Bombay 
Further information is available here.