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Indian Ink

Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company

Indian Ink

Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company

A commercial company established in 1600 to monopolize trade between England and the Far East, the East India Company grew to govern an Indian empire. Exploring the relationship between power and knowledge in European engagement with Asia, Indian Ink examines the Company at work and reveals how writing and print shaped authority on a global scale in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Tracing the history of the Company from its first tentative trading voyages in the early seventeenth century to the foundation of an empire in Bengal in the late eighteenth century, Miles Ogborn takes readers into the scriptoria, ships, offices, print shops, coffeehouses, and palaces to investigate the forms of writing needed to exert power and extract profit in the mercantile and imperial worlds. Interpreting the making and use of a variety of forms of writing in script and print, Ogborn argues that material and political circumstances always undermined attempts at domination through the power of the written word.

Navigating the juncture of imperial history and the history of the book, Indian Ink uncovers the intellectual and political legacies of early modern trade and empire and charts a new understanding of the geography of print culture.

288 pages | 22 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2007

Asian Studies: South Asia

Economics and Business: Economics--History

Geography: Cultural and Historical Geography

History: British and Irish History


"By arguing that the interrelationship of geography and writing was essential to networks of trade and the establishment of political domination, Ogborn offers fresh perspective on a literature preoccupied with the Company’s involvement in bullion and opium."

Bhavani Raman | Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Written in a fluid and enjoyable style, this book is an outstanding addition to the research into knowledge production and practices in the early British Empire. Ogborn’s research establishes the relevancy for the reader of applying studies of specific geographies of place to current explorations of the role of print and print culture in the dissemination of knowledge and the consequences and ramifications for the establishment of authority and the spread of political power."

George H. Thompson | Libraries & the Cultural Record

"[A] remarkable achievement in cultural nd economic history."

Studies in English Literature

"This is an original and compelling study that reveals through a series of well-chosen case studies how the production, dissenmination, and performance of knowledge was shaped by time and space."

Douglas M. Peers | International History Review

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Chapter 1   The Written World
Chapter 2   Writing Travels: Royal Letters and the Mercantile Encounter
Chapter 3   Streynsham Master’s Office: Accounting for Collectivity, Order, and Authority at Fort St. George
Chapter 4   The Discourse of Trade: Print, Politics, and the Company in England
Chapter 5   Stock Jobbing: Print and Prices on Exchange Alley
Chapter 6   The Work of Empire in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


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