Stages of Capital - Law, Culture, and Market Governance in Late Colonial India

Birla, Ritu

Published by Duke Univ
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Synopsis: In Stages of Capital, Ritu Birla brings research on nonwestern capitalisms into conversation with postcolonial studies to illuminate the historical roots of India’s market society. Between 1870 and 1930, the British regime in India implemented a barrage of commercial and contract laws directed at the “free” circulation of capital, including measures regulating companies, income tax, charitable gifting, and pension funds, and procedures distinguishing gambling from speculation and futures trading. Birla argues that this understudied legal infrastructure institutionalized a new object of sovereign management, the market, and along with it, a colonial concept of the public. In jurisprudence, case law, and statutes, colonial market governance enforced an abstract vision of modern society as a public of exchanging, contracting actors free from the anachronistic constraints of indigenous culture.

Birla reveals how the categories of public and private infiltrated colonial commercial law, establishing distinct worlds for economic and cultural practice. This bifurcation was especially apparent in legal dilemmas concerning indigenous or “vernacular” capitalists, crucial engines of credit and production that operated through networks of extended kinship. Focusing on the story of the Marwaris, a powerful business group renowned as a key sector of India’s capitalist class, Birla demonstrates how colonial law governed vernacular capitalists as rarefied cultural actors, so rendering them illegitimate as economic agents. Birla’s innovative attention to the negotiations between vernacular and colonial systems of valuation illustrates how kinship-based commercial groups asserted their legitimacy by challenging and inhabiting the public/private mapping. Highlighting the cultural politics of market governance, Stages of Capital is an unprecedented history of colonial commercial law, its legal fictions, and the formation of the modern economic subject in India.

From the Back Cover: "This remarkable book shows that the history of colonial capitalisms need not, and cannot, be divorced from subtle changes in ideas of legal subjectivity, gender, and corporate risk taking as subjects of archivally based cultural analysis. Ritu Birla's story of the transformation of the Marwari business clans of northern and eastern India into giants of contemporary capitalism is both impeccably scholarly and resolutely post-Orientalist. This book is a must for all those who sense that the mammoth global meltdown of this decade is powered by myriad regional and cultural capitalist trajectories."--Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University

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Title: Stages of Capital - Law, Culture, and Market...
Publisher: Duke Univ
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Birla, Ritu
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Book Description Durham : Duke University Press, 2009. Hardcover. No dustjacket. 346 pp. Includes bibliographical references (p. [307]-328) and index. - Contents : The proper swindle : commercial and financial legislation of the 1880s -- Capitalism's idolatry : the law of charitable trusts, mortmain, and the firm as -- Family, c. 1870/1920 -- For general public utility : sovereignty, philanthropy, and market governance -- 1890/1920 -- Hedging bets : speculation, gambling, and market ethics, 1890/1930 -- Economic agents, cultural subjects : gender, the joint family, and the making of -- Capitalist subjects, 1900/1940 -- Conclusion : colonial modernity and the social worlds of capital. Condition : as new. ISBN 9780822342458 KEYWORDS : RECHT *, asian law, *2017-13 rechtsgeschiedenis. Seller Inventory # 34075

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