Sebastian Schwecke: Debt, Trust, and Reputation. Extra-legal Finance in Northern India

Book description

Starting in the late nineteenth century, colonial rule in India took an active interest in regulating financial markets beyond the bridgeheads of European capital in intercontinental trade. Regulatory efforts were part of a modernizing project seeking to produce alignments between British and Indian business procedures, and to create the financial basis for incipient industrialization in India. For vast sections of Indian society, however, they pushed credit/debt relations into the realm of extra-legality, while the new, regulated agents of finance remained incapable (and unwilling) of serving their needs. Combining historical and ethnographic approaches, the book questions underlying assumptions of modernization in finance that continue to prevail in postcolonial India, and delineates the socioeconomic responses they produced, and studies the reputational economies of debt that have emerged instead – extra-legal markets embedded into communication flows on trust and reputation that have turned out to be significantly more exploitative than their colonial predecessors.

Table of contents 




List of Tables and Figures


List of Abbreviations

Part I 

A Tangled Jungle of Disorderly Transactions

Part II 

Debt in Banaras




About the author

Sebastian Schwecke writes on South Asia history, economy, and society, combining a broad spectrum of disciplines. His recent works include the co-edited Rethinking Markets in Modern India: Embedded Exchange and Contested Jurisdiction (Cambridge University Press, 2020). He is the founding director of the Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, Delhi.

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