Calcutta, from fort to city: A study of a colonial settlement, 1690-1750
thesisposted on 30.05.2013, 14:37 by Thomas Andrew Mansfield
Despite the vast amount of interest in the history of Calcutta as both a colonial metropolis and as the birthplace of the British Empire in India, very little work has looked at the origins of the colony. Previous work has focussed upon the incidents of the 1750s without analysing the foundation and development of Calcutta which was integral to the power and success of the East India Company servants living and trading in Bengal. The history of the Company in India has been hitherto shaped by analysis of political and commercial events. However, the meticulously recorded diaries and consultation books of the Company allows us to look at the colony in a new way. The many thousands of pages of official material and private papers detail the formative sixty years of the colony before the events of the 1750s. This can be analysed by asking different questions about the causes for British actions in India and the growth of British colonial spaces. This analysis has yielded new understanding of how the British understood and controlled the urban colonial environment and population of Calcutta. In particular, the control of the space, behaviour and infrastructure of the colony developed due to a mixture of local contexts and European influences. This research therefore sheds new light upon how the Company survived and grew in Bengal before the Battle of Plassey and also illuminates wider historical themes of authority, space, urban development and cultural interactions in new unexplored setting.