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Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843$
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Andrea Major

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781846317583

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317255

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date: 20 November 2017

Introduction: Slavery and Colonial Expansion in India

Introduction: Slavery and Colonial Expansion in India

Chapter:
(p.41) Introduction: Slavery and Colonial Expansion in India
Source:
Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846317255.005

This section examines slavery and colonial expansion in India, focusing on the attitude of the East India Company (EIC) towards the European slave trade and slaveholding in the country in the context of EIC state formation. It looks at official policy regarding European slave-trading as well as the nature of domestic slavery in Europe in the late eighteenth century. The section argues that the EIC opposed slave-trafficking because it not only undermined its control over subject populations but also threatened to depopulate territories and destabilise peasant society. On the other hand, the EIC presented slaveholding as a static domestic institution that protected the interests of the colonial state when the treatment of slaves violated contemporary ideas of morality, or ‘moderate chastisement’. The EIC consistently opposed chattel slavery as practised in the West Indies, but interfered only in its own territories when enslavement threatened colonial stability.

Keywords:   East India Company, slavery, slave trade, slaveholding, Europe, West Indies, slaves, slave-trafficking, India, colonial expansion

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