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Merchants, Mediators and Mannerly Conduct: The East India Company and Local Intermediaries in the Western Indian Ocean 1700–1750

Good, Peter (2023) Merchants, Mediators and Mannerly Conduct: The East India Company and Local Intermediaries in the Western Indian Ocean 1700–1750. Renaissance Studies, . ISSN 0269-1213. E-ISSN 1477-4658. (doi:10.1111/rest.12886) (KAR id:101666)


Throughout the Early Modern Period, European trading companies in the Indian Ocean were reliant upon the advice, service and assistance of non‐European, non‐Christian agents, brokers and translators. These individuals came from diverse backgrounds, from Christian Armenians to Hindu Banians and local Muslims from Persia and the Arabian Peninsula. While the work of some scholars, notably Sebouh Aslanian, Vahe Baladouni and Margaret Makepeace, have centred particularly on the Armenians, and James Onley's work focuses on the period of informal empire and the concept of ‘collaboration’, studies up until now having focused on particular individuals or communities rather than taking a broader view. This article will go some way to rectifying this by examining the different roles played by the various employees of the English East India Company from non‐European backgrounds in Persia and Yemen. These roles were necessary for the practical administration of the Company's business, including access to financial instruments, commodities and markets, translation services. These intermediaries also assisted Europeans in navigating properly courtly and social conduct when dealing with local and visiting officials and the social circles of local communities and structures. Some of these roles have often been associated with particular diasporic and local communities; however, as this chapter will show, the compartmentalization of particular roles to different ethnic or religious groups is often inaccurate. By using the records of the East India Company, travel accounts and the memoirs of merchants, this chapter will explore the extensive and invaluable contribution of non‐European and non‐Christian actors.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/rest.12886
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2023 10:53 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2023 15:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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