CHHAYA GOSWAMI (University of Mumbai)
Pirates of the Gulf of Kachchh: Capital, Power, and Violence
12 December 2022 | 3pm GMT
In person: Ertegun House, 37A St Giles', Oxford OX1 3LD
Online: Link to talk
The idea of violence at sea expands upon the constructs of political economy to political ecology as much as it relates to social anthropology, geography, and history. The study of how and why operational forces of enterprise and power relations drove individual or social groups to predation in a progressively interwoven sea creates the intrigue. What is more intriguing to check is how pirates and their politico-economic activities impacted the inner wheels of evolutionary capitalist system and power dynamics. What was the mechanism of such financial operations? Hinging on the interplay between linear and layered power relations, how did pirates integrate or juxtapose with the existing entrepreneurial networks? To see this demonstrated, this talk relooks at the Arabian Sea and re-evaluates British hegemonic interplay around the Gujarat, Bombay, and Canton cotton supply network, reordering overlying linkages between the empire, merchants, and pirates of the Gulf of Kachchh. It shows how the employing of the term “predation” or “marauding” as a genteelism for the legal frame grew into a crucial component of empire’s maritime prowess. The talk pictures the perspective that the British empire’s duel with pirates of the Gulf of Kachchh was also the dynamic phase of the trans-littoral piracy in the Arabian Sea.
Chhaya Goswami is Assistant Professor and head of the Department of History, S.K. Somaiya College, University of Mumbai. Her research explores the maritime history of the western coast of India and the western Indian Ocean, with a focus on trans-regional and trans-oceanic commodity exchange, maritime trading networks, diaspora and community studies, business history, oral history, and violence at sea. She is the author of The Call of the Sea, Kachchhi Traders in Muscat and Zanzibar c.1800-1880 (Orient BlackSwan, 2011) and Globalization Before its Time: Gujarati Merchants from Kachchh (Penguin Books 2016).