February 2024


Online Via Zoom


Commodity Production, Commerce, and Capitalism in Eighteenth-Century Surat

Indian Ocean and Beyond: Outward Bound from Gujarat
Ghulam A. Nadri, Professor of History, Georgia State University

Ghulam A. Nadri

Professor of History
Georgia State University

In this presentation, Nadri discusses the dynamics of Surat as a commercial and financial hub and a major textile production centre in the western Indian Ocean world in the eighteenth century. Through an analysis of the structure and organisation of commodity production and the market economy, he argues that Surat was a node of capitalism in western India. Merchants and other economic actors had and exercised decision-making and private property rights and accumulated capital through investment and innovation, and labour, goods, and services were commodified. He also argues that we need a more holistic approach to study the economy of early modern Surat and that capitalism as an analytical framework enables us to do so by exploring the relationship between capital and other factors of production and between capitalists and other groups, including the state.

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Ghulam A. Nadri

Ghulam A. Nadri obtained his PhD from Leiden University in 2007. He was a Newton International Fellow at LSE (2011-2012) and is currently director of the Asian Studies Center at GSU. He has published two monographs (The Political Economy of Indigo in India, 1580-1930: A Global Perspective, Brill, 2016 and Eighteenth-Century Gujarat: The Dynamics of Its Political Economy, 1750-1800, Brill, 2009) and over a dozen journal articles and book chapters on commodities, merchants, maritime labour market, economy, and trade in Gujarat and the western Indian Ocean. His current research project explores the business world of the Parsis and Indian capitalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the history of India/South Asia, the Indian Ocean world, Asia in the world economy, Asian Studies, and world history.