The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Foundations of the British Empire in India

Philip J. Stern

Anno: 2011
Rilegatura: Hardback
Pagine: 320 p.
Testo in English
Dimensioni: 238 x 165 mm
Peso: 600 gr.
  • EAN: 9780195393736
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The Company-State rethinks the nature of the early English East India Company as a form of polity and corporate sovereign well before its supposed transformation into a state and empire in the mid-eighteenth century. Taking seriously the politics and political thought of the early Company on their own terms, it explores the Company's political and legal constitution as an overseas corporation and the political institutions and behaviors that followed from it, from tax collection and public health to warmaking and colonial plantation. Tracing the ideological foundations of those institutions and behaviors, this book reveals how Company leadership wrestled not simply with the bottom line but with typically early modern problems of governance, such as: the mutual obligations of subjects and rulers; the relationship between law, economy, and sound civil and colonial society; and the nature of jurisdiction and sovereignty over people, commerce, religion, territory, and the sea. The Company-State thus reframes some of the most fundamental narratives in the history of the British Empire, questioning traditional distinctions between public and private bodies, "commercial" and "imperial" eras in British India, a colonial Atlantic and a "trading world" of Asia, European and Asian political cultures, and the English and their European rivals in the East Indies. At its core, The Company-State offers a view of early modern Europe and Asia, and especially the colonial world that connected them, as resting in composite, diffuse, hybrid, and overlapping notions of sovereignty that only later gave way to more modern singular, centralized, and territorially- and nationally-bounded definitions of political community. Given growing questions about the fate of the nation-state and of national borders in an age of "globalization," this study offers a perspective on the vitality of non-state and corporate political power perhaps as relevant today as it was in the seventeenth century.