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Streynsham Master's office: accounting for collectivity, order and authority in 17th-century India

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Ogborn, Miles

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Abstract This paper examines the uses of writing in early modern global trade in order to argue for the constitutive role of inscription practices in the making of the social and spatial relations of mercantile capitalism. At the heart of this is a detailed study of the reform of the accounting and bookkeeping practices of the English East India Company at Fort St George carried out by Streynsham Master (1640–1724) in the late 17th century. This is used to show that the collective decision-making, social and moral order, and relationships of respect upon which the Company relied were constructed in and through the factory's consultation books, accountancy ledgers and the letters sent between England and India. This paperwork was part of the making of institutional structures and spaces which worked through a series of divisions between ‘public’ and ‘private’, and which made the ‘logic’ of mercantile capital evident to the Company's servants.
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 127-155
Journal Cultural Geographies, 13 (2006) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)