Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Abstract 2010 Lisa Sturm

 Lisa Sturm
Seminar für Geschichte und Kultur Südasiens
Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin
The American-India Trade in the Context of Global Transformations 1784-1830

Over the last few decades, global history has become an ascendant discipline for historical
studies. With the increasing globalization of our time, the question of dating globalization to its
beginning has aroused the interest of many historians and comprehensive approaches towards
world history, unveiling global entanglements and complexities, have shed new light on
historical events and their coherences. The late eighteenth century is seen as a period where
world crisis and global acceleration were triggered by an “age of revolutions” that led to the
collapse of various regimes worldwide. A process that created many hybrid polities, mixed
ideologies, and complex forms of global economic activity, which is characterized by periods of
stability and periods of worldwide crises.

The post-revolutionary India trade of the United States of America emerged out of such global
conjunctures and crises of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. American
independence and the discontinuation of the East India Company’s monopoly on Indian trade
made direct trade relations between the American and Indian merchants possible. With the
Napoleonic Wars and the Continental System, the American traders became significant as a
neutral carrier of Asian commodities for the European markets and were able to replace
European merchandisers in the East India trade during this time.

The dissertation aims to give a comprehensive account of the coherences and complexities of the
American-Indian trade and its effects on the participating societies. It examines the global
character of the trade, its reexport to several world regions and the impact of commerce and
consumption on both the American and Indian societies.

It is suspected that the trade with India contributed substantially to a commercialization of the
US-American society. Recent research on American society between 1780 and 1830
characterizes the time as a period of social transformation, contradicting the common narrative
that social changes in US-American society set in first with the rise of industrialization in the
1860s. The time between 1780 and 1830 witnessed a deep transformation of the American
society when modern financial and commercial forces of the early decades tamed the classical
republican tradition leading to a spread of commerce and business. This, along with a consumer
revolution where Asian luxury goods played a decisive role can be described as early
developments towards a popular commercial society in the USA.

The dissertation will show, that a clear picture of the dimension and scope of the American-
Indian trade relations is only possible by putting them into a global context as the uprise of the
trade relations between 1784 and 1815 was directly affected by the global crises of the late
eighteenth century and can therefore be described as critical juncture of globalization.

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