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Written by well-known scholars, this book raises pertinent questions and takes up alternate perspectives on the growth and development of international trade between Europe and Asia, especially India, in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Through a comparative and comprehensive study of merchant communities, markets and commodities the individual authors argue, contrary to conventional views, that Asian merchants were in no way inferior to Europeans in terms of their commercial operations and business acumen. The book emphasizes the continuing and growing importance of India's overland trade, even in the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries, traces the little-known world of Armenian merchants, the hitherto obscure, but voluminous, Indian trade with the Ottoman Empire, and by unearthing new evidence, demonstrates that the export activity of Asian merchants through the overland route from Bengal was higher, in fact, than the combined total of European exports.
Around 1680 a storm of protest blew up in England and France against the import of Indian cloths. Having become the height of fashion, they had begun to pour in by the boatload. They were threatening local textile industries – bosses and workmen alike. This led to bans which also covered the European imitations which had been encouraged by the success of the fashion and the existence of a market. Several studies have tackled the question in depth from the point of view of the objectors and in terms of the extent of the development and how it affected them. But the ‘invasion’ and the ‘assault’ as such have not been studied for their own sakes quite apart from the problems they caused; they have been banished to the limbo of a collective unconscious and ignored by the historians. My aim is to extract them from there and subject them to scrutiny, and thereby to make a contribution in a particular area to the debate on the confrontation between East and West in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However, before tackling the part, I need to say something about the whole (independently of another comparison that will be found elsewhere), for the issue is not quite the same in the two cases. My plan will be found to flow logically from these prolegomena.
It is almost common knowledge by now, thanks to the penetrating research by several scholars on maritime history in the last few decades, that the opening of the direct sea route from Europe to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope brought about an integration of trade on a global scale in the early modern era (roughly between 1500 and 1800). The main focus of the present volume is to highlight the growth and development of the international trade between Europe and Asia, especially India, between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries which is extremely significant in the economic history of the world. This is the period when India was gradually incorporated into the capitalistic world system through oceanic trade with Europe. Encouraged by the Portuguese activities in the sixteenth century, various North European nations founded joint-stock companies in the early seventeenth century for trade in Asia, prominent among them being the English East India Company (EIC) and the Dutch Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC). The flow of silver from the ‘New World’ of America rendered trade between Europe and Asia easier. A portion of the silver which entered Europe from America was used in commerce with Asia. This, along with the silver that came from Japan, enhanced the purchasing power of the Europeans who were now in an advantageous position to procure goods for European markets.
Current opinion in the West is quick to speak of the backwardness of the Oriental economies (leaving aside Japan and the little tigers around it) and of the innate inferiority of their representatives (even though Lebanese and Saudi bankers can create a cold sweat on the Paris, London and New York stock exchanges nowadays). The weakness of the GDPs or GNPs in certain countries by comparison with the developed nations and the very obvious poverty of many towns and villages encourage these feelings, which in the pre-Independence era were often accompanied by a contemptuous attitude on the part of the colonizers towards the colonized and by discriminatory measures. This sort of pride could be dismissed as ingenuous if its consequences were not so grave, and it is still apparent even today. The resulting tendency has been to move from a study of economic situations to a study of economic structures from the present day to the immemorial. Of course few historians today will look at things this way. But the old vulgate is periodically revived and still has its adepts. It has unquestionably left its mark on many historians – whether they like it or not – influencing their way of presenting the facts. So I thought it would be a good thing to remind you about it, if only as a salutary warning.
The present volume is a collection of essays based on the papers presented at the International Seminar on ‘Merchants, Companies and Trade – the Asian and European Scene in the Indian Context, 16th–18th Century’ organized at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (MSH), Paris, in 1990. The main inspiration behind the Seminar was provided by Maurice Aymard, and the MSH came forward with liberal assistance, both financial and secretarial, for holding the Seminar in Paris. The delay in the publication of the volume is partly due to the fact that the two editors, living in two different continents, took quite some time to finalize the details of publication. Nevertheless, while acknowledging the failure on their part, the editors do hope that the volume will be welcome at least on the principle ‘better late than never’. They take this opportunity to convey their grateful thanks to the staff and members of the MSH, especially Maurice Aymard, for all their generous help and cooperation. Finally, they remain grateful to the Syndicate of the Cambridge University Press for accepting the volume for publication and to the editors at the Press for a very demanding period of working together.
The synthesis of the superconducting perovskite YBa2Cu3O7 using hydroxides as starting precursors has been investigated. Hydroxides are homogeneously coprecipitated from mixed alcohol-water solutions without loss of barium. Upon heat-treatment the perovskite phase rapidly forms around 750°C. However, it remains tetragonal even after long time annealing in oxygen ambient. This is related to an unusual microtwinning in the (ac) plane.
La rédaction des Annales E.S. C. m'a placé dans une situation embarrassante. Je lui avais adressé, voici un an, un assez long article intitulé « La maladie infantile de l'histoire économique moderne » (76 pages). J'y dénonçais un certain nombre de contre-vérités actuellement en circulation dans notre discipline et le laxisme qui se développe de consentir au culte des personnalités comme à l'incohérence dans la pensée. J'y exposais ensuite en quoi et comment ces déviations, incontestablement condamnables, s'étaient trouvées engendrées en quelque sorte naturellement par les circonstances et par les contraintes mêmes à la naissance de cette branche de la recherche. J'y esquissais, enfin, les linéaments d'une perspective et d'une prospective susceptibles de mettre un terme à une évolution regrettable mais résistible et de sortir du labyrinthe.