Margins of the Market: Trafficking and the Framing of Free Trade in the Arabian Sea, 1870s to 1960s

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Margins of the Market: Trafficking and the Framing of Free Trade in the Arabian Sea, 1870s to 1960s

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Title: Margins of the Market: Trafficking and the Framing of Free Trade in the Arabian Sea, 1870s to 1960s
Author: Mathew, Johan
Citation: Mathew, Johan. 2012. Margins of the Market: Trafficking and the Framing of Free Trade in the Arabian Sea, 1870s to 1960s. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: My dissertation traces how the interplay of trafficking and regulation shaped free trade in the Arabian Sea. It explores trafficking in the littoral region stretching from western India to the Swahili Coast, as it evolved under colonial regulation. British officials wanted commercial practices in the Arabian Sea to conform to their perception of free trade, but their dedication to laissez-faire policies prevented them from intervening directly in trade. But smuggling provided the perfect justification for intervention. Colonial regulation focused on four illicit arenas that structured free trade: labor, security, finance and transportation. The suppression of the slave trade would produce wage labor. The suppression of the arms traffic would eliminate violence from trade. The regulation of currency arbitrage would create a stable monetary standard. Finally, the regulation of shipping would develop a transportation system which could incorporate distance into the calculation of price. Yet these regulatory efforts were frustrated by merchant networks which exploited the gaps in the enforcement of these regulations. Merchants co-opted regulators, circumvented regulations and evaded policing in order to structure transactions to their own advantage. Thus my dissertation demonstrates how free trade in the Arabian Sea was framed through this intricate interplay of trafficking and regulation.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10382787
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