Poor Man's Crop: Evading opium monopoly

GUNNEL CEDERLÖF
2018 Modern Asian Studies  
AbstractResearch on opium in colonial India has so far mainly focused on the competing Malwa and Bengal opium currents under the control of the Sindia and Holkar families and of the British East India Company, respectively. The historical trajectory has tended to emphasize the implementation of a draconian and all-encompassing British monopoly. This study joins the emerging efforts to search the regional histories on the margins of the strongest players' actions on the global scene. It aims at
more » ... uancing the narratives by focusing on a region away from such centres. The study investigates the local cultivation and usage of opium in Rangpore district—a region in north Bengal that had recently been badly affected by a severe flood. Here, the drug was extensively used and the lucrative trade with neighbouring states gave small-scale cultivators an income also under hard environmental conditions. The fact that production and trade were small-scale, fragmented, and made use of markets in Cooch Bihar, Assam, and Bhutan impeded British attempts at getting in control of production and trade.
doi:10.1017/s0026749x17001093 fatcat:pxhv3efqhva3plpwc254ctle3m