Category Archives: East India Company

Tipu’s Tiger should be Tipu’s – ship it back to the Bagh.

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We should ask V&A head honcho Tristram Hunt if he plans to hand any of the booty back.

The famous sepoy being eaten by a tiger should surely be repatriated to Seringapatnam. It was stolen after Tipu was defeated. I guess responsibility lies with Wellesley, but that the V&A did not itself first ‘acquire’ the object, that is no reason not to return it to the place it was stolen from. Elgin marbles are broken, but this piece is still operative and would be a great draw at the Summer Palace in Daria Daulat Bagh
Who is up for a campaign for this. See pic – they make the most of it here: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/tipus-tiger
also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVPq_7kIufw&feature=emb_rel_end

The Fantasist of Calcutta has a plaque

Atrocities and alibi’s for dirty colonial deeds of the ‘robber baron’ Clive and his mates. Here is a plaque for John Zephania Holwell, who wrote his dramatically claustrophobic survivor tale several months afterwards as a kind of post-factum justification for the subsequent slaughter at Palashi. He goes on to be Governor and erects a monument to his own heroism, which survives 40 years and is forgotten until Mark Twain asks about it – thanks Mark. Pah, the monument is rebuilt – and still stands today, though moved to the grounds of the nearby church, partly because Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and crew slapped it with a  slipper, and chisels.

Hollwell plaque

Thanks to Claire who found this at King’s Guy’s Hospital. A plaque to the apologist of Palashi. I suppose it is too minor an atrocity – one among many – for the Rhodes must fall group to be deployed, but some annotation is surely necessary.

This chapter may explain why this is such an outrage. The man built a monument to his lies.

 

 

Multitude redux Empire: wrong way, don’t go back, we should leave too.

People got wishful thinking a lot, and I am always for breaking the borders, but as this can be read from afar, I reckon yes, but the prognosis offered below by Hardt and Negri back in the Empire day ends up objectively anti-communist – the wrong side is lauded as abandoning the discipline of the system. What if rather, all the exploited under capitalism had pushed at the wall the other way, the former soviet block might not be a pit of cowboy corruption and proto-fascist gangsterism, but rather a renewal – walls can fall both ways, and maybe H&N were pushing the wrong way. I don’t mean everyone should now move to Mexico, but abandoning the shopping centre queues in favour of a Leninist discipline supporting an organised alternative to empty glitz is a long term better solution for all rather than this multitude exodus which does tend to me to sound a bit like Pol Pot’s year zero as well.

“A specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration. All the powers of the old world are allied in a merciless operation against it, but the movement is irresistible. Along with the flight from the so-called Third World there are flows of political refugees and transfers of intellectual labor power, in addition to the massive movements of the agricultural, manufacturing, and service proletariat. The legal and documented movements are dwarfed by clandestine migrations: the borders of national sovereignty are sieves, and every attempt at complete regulation runs up against violent pressure. Economists attempt to explain this phenomenon by presenting their equations and models, which even if they were complete would not explain that irrepressible desire for free movement. In effect, what pushes from behind is, negatively, desertion from the miserable cultural and material conditions of imperial reproduction; but positively, what pulls forward is the wealth of desire and the accumulation of expressive and productive capacities that the processes of globalization have determined in the consciousness of every individual and social group—and thus a certain hope. Desertion and exodus are a powerful form of class struggle within and against imperial postmodernity. This mobility, however, still constitutes a spontaneous level of struggle, and, as we noted earlier, it most often leads today to a new rootless condition of poverty and misery. A new nomad horde, a new race of barbarians, will arise to invade or evacuate Empire. Nietzsche was oddly prescient of their destiny in the nineteenth century. ‘‘Problem: where are the barbarians of the twentieth century? Obviously they will come into view and consolidate themselves only after tremendous socialist crises.’’ We cannot say exactly what Nietzsche foresaw in his lucid delirium, but indeed what recent event could be a stronger example of the power of desertion and exodus, the power of the nomad horde, than the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the entire Soviet bloc? In the desertion from ‘‘socialist discipline,’’ savage mobility and mass migration contributed substantially to the collapse of the system. In fact, the desertion of productive cadres disorganized and struck at the heart of the disciplinary system of the bureaucratic Soviet world. The mass exodus of highly trained workers from Eastern Europe played a central role in provoking the collapse of the Wall. Even though it refers to the particularities of the socialist state system, this example demonstrates that the mobility of the labor force can indeed express an open political conflict and contribute to the destruction of the regime. What we need, however, is more. We need a force capable of not only organizing the destructive capacities of the multitude, but also constituting through the desires of the multitude an alternative. The counter-Empire must also be a new global vision, a new way of living in the world… If in a first moment the multitude demands that each state recognize juridically the migrations that are necessary to capital, in a second moment it must demand control over the movements themselves. The multitude must be able to decide if, when, and where it moves. It must have the right also to stay still and enjoy one place rather than being forced constantly to be on the move. The general right to control its own movement is the multitude’s ultimate demand for global citizenship. This demand is radical insofar as it challenges the fundamental apparatus of imperial control over the production and life of the multitude. Global citizenship is the multitude’s power to reappropriate control over space and thus to design the new cartography.”

Thanks J Adams for the reminder of this bit of Empire

My longe essay critiquing Empire is here

Destruction of weavers

Their bones will, Marx says, end up bleached on the plains of Bihar. Here Ranajit Guha in 1956 examines how colonial policy and corporation demands destroy livelihoods and skills fore generations to come. Some of the language may seem dated or unfamiliar I guess… but:

‘The Regulation on weavers,

framed by the Board of Trade in 1786, went further than this. But here also the proposed measure of improvement was administered strictly according to the commercial requirements of the Company. The Regulation provided for a number of legal safeguards favourable to the Companys weavers, but these represented no more than what was barely needed to ensure the regular and timely execution of contracts for investment. While the parochial labour of the textile producers of Bengal, thanks to the Company’s transactions, was being converted into an element of world economy, nothing was done to introduce a corresponding measure of improvement either in the technique or in the relations of production. The demands of a higher economic order were thus superimposed on a backward industrial organization without preparing the latter in any sense for such a function. There was nothing either in the nature of the East India Company or in Bengali society at the time which could satisfy the historical requirements of the situation. The result was that the Company, failing as it did to effect the release of the productive forces of native industry from feudal fetters, adopted the more facile solution of quarantine by isolating a part of the productive system from its original habitat and straitjiacketing it by the artificial organization of the English

factories. Thus, even before the indigenous industry of Bcngal had begun to wilt under the blasts that blew from Manchester in the first half of the nineteenth century, it was undermined at its very base due to the utter incompatibility between its mode of production and the nature of the market it was intended to serve’ (Guha 2009: 81-2).

From: The Small Voice of History: Collected Essays. Ranikhet can’t.: Permanent Black.

Smuggling – of tea to Scotland?

The Commission of Customs Scotland to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, reporting on the subject of trade with India, in 1812, examined Earl, Osborne and Ferrier (traders) on the question of smuggling ‘tea’. The answer is instructive – smuggling will increase if EIC ships are permitted to trade in Scottish waters. That is, lets be clear, English ships smuggling ‘tea’ to Scotland. Recall that these ships mostly carry other goods than tea, but in smuggling, the trick is not to declare. Records reported elsewhere – I think in Judt, have to check back – indicated some half a million pounds worth or goods a year was ‘pilfered’ from vessels in the Thames at London – that’s half a million of the declared consignments. The need to read between the lines – what does other ‘East India Goods’ really mean, and what does it not mean? The remittances off the books was a healthy trade for, in Feldbaek’s examples, for Danish shipping out of Serampore.

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Opium not as interesting as money for the parliament, even as…

pound-749763

Reading various Blue Books and the like, parliamentary reports. This one on the East India Company struck me as typical, though the clipped coins distraction is of course curious enough to make the distraction distracting. I recall that Jacques Derrida writes on clipped coins in his essay Given Time, and George Caffentzis has a fascinating book on Locke: Clipped Coins, Abused Words, Civil Government: John Locke’s Philosophy of Money, both of which repay reading in the light of this old evidence from 1832. A certain smuggler-trader called Davidson is giving evidence to the parliamentary committee.

The casual racism, that the committee was more interested in dollars and silver than the opium trade – which as Marx of course recalls, was a vicious and vengeful trade – and as carried on by what is called the Country Ships, or Country Trade, which means those private traders not in the employ of the East IndiaCompany but often doing the work of its servants or agents, its officers, who made their cut on such up-country ventures, from Clive on.

90% of the cargo cotton and opium.

The dollar is clipped

It does not thereby lose in value (since weight in silver still applies)

Holes in the coins – sometimes for stringing, but often they are punched and clipped (the idea is that you clip a bit of each of a dozen coins and melt the bits up into a new coin, or you punch out the middle, as circle or square, and use it as a smaller denomination coin). Eventually this clipping, and punching, practice defeats the denominations, and weight reasserts its interest.

Which all for me is interesting and if you think its ancient stuff, just look in your pocket and see – the British two pound is a punched coin, with gold rim, silver (alloy) middle, the Australian 50 cent piece is clipped on all sides, as is the Brit 20p and the Indian 5 paise, Danish 1, 2 and 5 krone have holes, the Thai Bhat reminiscent of the counter punched ones (and for a time was very useful in cigarette machines in England, a healthy killing made by arriving with pockets full of Bhat when travelling to pommie). Also various denominations of the yen, oh and I see the new British pound is a tribute to the clipped coin too – OK, look again at the pound pictured above, I call it, the contemporary British pound coin is in effect a silent tribute to the age-old bastard opium trade, in the memory of Walter Stevenson Davidson Esquire, giving evidence below:

 

Do you happen to know whether Advantage has been taken of the Removal of that Restriction from the Import of British Manufactures into China from India?

I have heard it stated to be so; I have understood that it has been done profitably.

What particular Species of Manufactures?

I really cannot enumerate them.

They have not been to any great Extent?

No, I think not; principally by the Officers of Ships. I should think not to an Extent sufficient much to attract the Attention of the great Houses in India.

What were the chief Articles consigned to you for Sale in China by your Constituents?

The chief Articles were Cotton and Opium; they formed, I think, upwards of Nine Tenths of my Consignments.

What were your Returns?

Besides the Supercargoes Bills on the Indian Government, when they drew, I remitted very largely in Sycee Silver, the Production of China, in Tutenag, and many other Articles.

Any in Dollars?

Sometimes in Dollars. We were occasionally compelled to remit in Dollars, owing to the Difficulty of smuggling the Sycee Silver; but never resorted to that Mode, I think, when we could obtain the Sycee Silver.

The Dollar in China is very much beaten and broken, is it not?

Constantly cut and clipped in all Directions; it almost ceases to be a Dollar when it has circulated in China; there it is weighed as Silver; all Payments are made by Weight.

Is the Dollar, in consequence of this beating and breaking, diminished in intrinsic Value in China?

The Moment the Dollar is clipped it cannot be said to diminish in Value, because it will be taken afterwards just for its Weight in Silver, although it be punched and clipped through and through.

 

(citation: ‘Affairs of the East India Company: Minutes of evidence, 25 June 1830’, in Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830 (London, [n.d.]), pp. 1156-1164. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/lords-jrnl/vol62/pp1156-1164 [accessed 28 March 2018].)

Restored 18th century Danish tavern to be inaugurated today

[JH comment: now if you were plying the illicit opium trade on behalf of dodgy East India Company officials, you’d also need to stop by the Tavern and deal. I guess]

DanishTavernopenFrom; The Milennium Post

by Nandini Guha | 28 Feb 2018 12:20 AM

http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/restored-18th-century-danish-tavern-to-be-inaugurated-today-287209

Kolkata: An 18th Century Danish tavern that was in ruins, has been finally restored into a 120-seater café and lodge overlooking the Ganges at Serampore, by the Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Denmank. The heritage property will be inaugurated on Wednesday by Indranil Sen, the minister of state for Tourism and several ambassadors representing the Nordic countries. The tavern dates back to 1786. Restoration work was taken up by heritage architect Manish Chakraborti and his team in 2015. “A lot of European vessels used to ply on the river during that time. They used to spend a night in transit at the tavern. When we took over restoration though, it was in ruins. The roof had collapsed and there was debris everywhere. Now the old building has been restored to its old classical beauty,” Chakraborti told Millennium Post. The cost of restoration has been borne by the National Museum of Denmark (Rs 3.5 crore) and the state Tourism Department (Rs 1.5 crore). The Tourism Department is presently looking for an operator to run the café and it is expected that it will be fully operational in a month. “The important thing is that the government is investing in a heritage building that has now been converted into a reusable commercial space. As far as the menu is concerned, the operator has to keep in mind that this is Serampore and not Park Street. The pricing could be similar to cafes like Flury’s or Mrs Magpie. And of course, it will be a boost for the state’s tourism prospects,” added Chakraborti. Chakraborti had earlier won a UNESCO award for restoring the 200 year old St Olaf’s Church in Serampore, again an initiative of the Government of Denmark and the West Bengal government.

http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/restored-18th-century-danish-tavern-to-be-inaugurated-today-287209

Radiating Globality: Old Histories and New Geographies

Draft programme

International CONFERENCE

« RADIATING GLOBALITY / OLD HISTORIES AND NEW GEOGRAPHIES »

20-21 February 2016

Salle Viseoconférence UCAD 2, Cheikh Anta Diop

Dakar, Senegal

**************   O  **************

Programme

Samedi 20 Février 2016

09:00 – 09:15

Ibrahima Thioub, Rector – UCAD

Welcome adress

09:15 – 09:30 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, History and Overview

09:35 – 09:50 John Hutnyk, Global Gifts and Capture

09:55 – 10:10 Discussions

10:10 – 10:30 Ben Baer, Regionalizing Socialism — (Pan-)African Exemplarities

10:30 – 10:55 Kanu Agrawal ‘The Role of Designers, Making Connections’

10:55 – 11:15 Joël Ruet, From Development Model to Emergence Toolbox? Agriculture & Industry in West Bengal, Yunnan and Senegal

11:15 – 11:30 Discussions

11:50 – 12:10 Lakshmi Subramaniam, Riverine regions and littoral spaces: mobile geographies and connected histories

12:10 – 12:25 Discussions

12:25 – 13:45 Lunch

13:45 – 14:05 Emmanuelle Kadya Tall, Cultu(r)al productions of the South Atlantic radiating globality: Mami Wata & the Twins

14:05 – 14:20 Discussions

14:20 – 14:40 Sylvain SANKALE, Thinking economic development in Senegal around 1820 Crossing experiences

14:40 – 14:55 Discussions

14:55 – 15:15 Break

15:15 – 15:30 Souleymane Bachir diagne, Comments

15:30 – 17:00

De/siring India: Representations through British & French Eyes (1584–1857)

ICSSR-Sponsored International Conference organised by the Department of English, Chandernagore College, Hooghly in collaboration with Institut de Chandernagor

 

De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584 – 1857)

18 January – 19 January 2016

TENTATIVE PROGRAMME

18 January 2016

10 – 10.30: Registration (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

10.30 – 11.20: Inaugural Session

11.20 – 12.05: Keynote Address – Dr. Ian Magedera, Department of Modern Languages and Culture, University of Liverpool

‘Shall I compare thee to…’, Encountering and Countering Power in European Representations of India 1728 to 1857

12.05 – 12.15: Discussion and tea

Business Session 1 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

12.15 – 12.45: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad

 

Knowing India in Sixteenth Century Europe

12.45 – 1.15: Prof. Nilanjan Chakrabarti, Dept. of English & Other Modern European Languages

Visva-Bharati – European Expansion and French Travel Narratives of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on India

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

12.25 – 12.55: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

Marx reading despatches from India

12.55 – 1.15: Ms. Janani Kalyani Venkataraman, Department of French, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad

Sati resolved –representation of Indian widows in French plays in the 18th and early 19th century

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

1.30 – 2.30: LUNCH

Business Session 2 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

 

Chair: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research

 

2.30 – 3.00: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

Desiring Bengal: Trade, culture, and the first English traveller to eastern India

3.00 – 3.30: Dr. Anna Becker, Department of History, University of Basel, Switzerland

The Mughal Regime and Female Bodies in 17th Century English Political Thought

3.30 – 3.45: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Dr. Arpita Chattoraj Mukhopadhyay, Department of English, Burdwan University

2.30 – 2.50:Mr. Ariktam Chatterjee, Department of English, Govt. General Degree College, Singur, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

 

Hindu Pantheon in London and a deported Sacred Thread: Instances problematising representation of India in the memoirs of British Baptist Missionaries

 

2.50 – 3.10: Dr. Swati Dasgupta, French Section, Dept. of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of Delhi

Women in the Indian Revolt of 1857

3.10 – 3.30: Dr. Sudipta Chakraborty, Department of English, Sreegopal Banerjee College, Hooghly

Crime and Empire: Colonial Imaginings and the Thuggee in Early Nineteenth Century British India

3.30 – 3.40: Discussion

3.40 – 4.10: Visit to the Exhibition at Institut de Chandernagor and Coffee

19 January 2016

10.30 – 11.00: Registration and Tea

Business Session 3 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

11.00 – 11.30: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research

 

The Travels and Travails of Indigo in Bengal: Anglo-French Rivalry in the early Nineteenth

Century Context

 

11.30 – 12.00: Dr. Romita Ray, Department of Art and Music Histories, Syracuse University, USA

 

Canton to Calcutta? Tea and Eighteenth-Century Encounters in the Colonial Metropolis

12.00 – 12.20: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

Diamonds, Spices and Brahmins: Locating Culture in Tavernier’s Narrative of Desire

12.20 – 12.50: Dr. Jyoti Mohan, Department of History and Geography, Morgan State University, USA – L’Inde historique

12.50 – 1.05: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad

11.00 – 11.30: Dr. Abhijit Gupta, Department of English, Jadavpur University
A Case of Identity: Madame Grand of Chandernagore

11.30 – 11.50: Ms. Rita Chatterjee, Department of English, Maharani Kasiswari College, Kolkata, PhD Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences

Blurred boundaries and travelling identities: a reading of Eliza Fay’s original letters from   India: containing a narrative of a journey through Egypt   and the author’s imprisonment at Calicut by Hyder Ali (1779-1815).

11.50 – 12.10: Ms. Michelle Karunakaran, MPhil/PhD Scholar, English, JNU, Delhi

Voltaire on Indian philosophy: early chapter in the history of French Orientalism

12.10 – 12.40: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

Promenade and perception: on the status of flânerie in 18th- and 19th-century writing on India

12.40 – 1.05: Discussion

1.05 – 2.00: LUNCH

Business Session 4 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

2.00 – 2.20: Dr. Abin Chakraborty, Department of English, Chandernagore College

“Crack mee this nut, all ye Papall charitie vaunters”: Reading the Narratives and Letters of Thomas Coryat

2.20 – 2.40: Mr. Pinaki De, Department of English, Raja Peary Mohan College, Uttarpara

Tints and Tones: (Dis)orienting Oriental Scenery

2.40 – 3.00: Ms. Soumya Goswamy, Department of History, Chandernagore College

Colonial writings and the agenda of understanding Indian classical music

Discussion

3.00 – 3.15: Coffee

3.15 – 4.00: Valedictory and Vote of Thanks (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

 

Population Malthus (‘The hour of vulgar economy had struck’)

Haileybury-College-Terrace1Interested in the beginnings of the East India College at Haileybury and the first Prof of History and Politics… the dodgy Reverend himself Thomas Robert ‘Pop’ Malthus.

I need to check again, but from the family tree it looks to me like he married his cousin. And his father had married his cousin. Which maybe makes you wonder why he was so in favour of population control.

yep – a little scrabbling around the library and the internet and we find, that Grandfather Sydenham Malthus, was born at Northolt in Middlesex about 1678. He married Anne Dalton and had a son and three daughters:

1. Daniel (see below)

2. Anne, wife of Humphrey Hackshaw. No issue

3. Katherine, married George Eckersall in 1745. They had a son, John Eckersall who married his cousin Katherine Wathen (see below), and their daughter, Harriet Eckersall, born in 1777, was to marry her cousin once removed, the Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus.

4. Elizabeth, who married at St.Mary at Hill, London on 19th March 1750 Samuel Wathen. They had a daughter, Katherine Wathen, baptized at St.Botolphs, Bishopsgate, London on 8th February 1753. She married her cousin John Eckersall as noted, had a daughter, Harriet.

*

So, the first son, Daniel, married his second cousin Henrietta Catherine in 1753. She was the elder daughter of Daniel Graham

The elder son of Daniel and Henrietta, also called Sydenham Malthus, was born c 1754. He married his cousin Mariana Georgina, widow of William Leigh Symes of Esher in Surrey in 1798, she was the daughter of the THOMAS RYVES, by his 2nd wife Anna Maria, younger daughter of Daniel Graham.

The younger son was Thomas Robert. He marries Harriet.

Roots web sums this up with what I can’t but hear as a certain, erm, tone:

Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus is said to have had a hare-lip and speech impediment. He was a celebrated economist and author of the controversial work ‘Political Economy’ which warns of the dangers of population growth. He married (at Claverton Church in Somerset on 12th April 1804) his cousin once removed Harriet daughter of John Eckersall by Katherine daughter of Samuel Wathen

Just refresh yourself by looking back above for Eckersall and Wathem in the entries for the daughters 3 & 4 of grandfather Sydenham Malthus and Anne Dalton.

Keeping it in the family. How to draw the tree?

And to trace out all Marx’s references to this purveyor of ‘vulgar economy’ Capital Ch.24

Quid pro Quo – Subversive Festival, Zagreb (2nd vid)

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 14.39.22

My third talk in a series of three on capital was at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb. The second talk is here (Translating Capital in Context) and it makes sense to see the second talk first [the first one in Rijeka was not recorded, but was based on my text on Citizen Kane], not least because it will help explain why the conceit in this third talk has Marx relocated to India, which of course he was always deeply interested in, but he never went, only picking up bits of info, and some myths – eg the horror stories of Jagannath etc – from his wide-ranging and varied reading. I think it is justified to deploy Marx to Calcutta, at least in fantasy, though its true not even Engels took his father’s advice to go to Calcutta to start in business. The old boys were European bound, but this did not mean they did not seek out the revolution elsewhere.

What also should be mentioned (the parts here are – great job – edited and slightly reordered, and the opening by Bernard missed) is that in this talk I set out to look at three different moments. 1) the arrival of Clive in Calcutta after the ‘sham scandal’ of the Black Hole in 1756; 2) the first all-India war of Independence, the so-called ‘mutiny’ 100 years later and; 3) the quid pro quo return of originary capital to the site of the East India Company shipyard in London in present times, under the aegis of the Farrell’s development of Convoys’ Wharf, Deptford, for Hutchinson Whampoa.

I am slowly writing this out as a long, too long, chapter, so this version is pretty schematic, but you will get the drift of new work. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks also to the crew at Subversive, especially Karolina Hrga, and Bernard Koludrović who was chair.

Abstract:

“Marx writing on India is key to understanding Capital. My argument is that we can make sense of Marx today by examining his theoretical and journalistic work together, each informed by an emergent anthropology, by historical hermeneutics, by a critique of political economy and by attention to a global political contest that mattered more than philosophy. Marx reading history, already against the grain and without being able to make actual alliances, is nevertheless seeking allies in a revolutionary cause. Is it possible to observe Marx coming round to realise, after the shaping experience of the 1848-1852 European uprisings, the possibilities for the many different workers of the world to unite? I consider the sources Marx finds available, what he reads, and how his writing practice parses critical support as habitual politics, and how far subcontinental events, themes and allegories are a presence in the key moves of his masterwork Capital almost as if India were a refocused bromide for Europe, just as slavery is for wages. I will take up four cases – the ‘founding’ of Calcutta by Job Charnock (disputed); the story of Clive sacking Chandernagore and going on to defeat Suraj-ud-duala at Palashi/Plassey in 1757 in retaliation for the ‘Black Hole’ (did it exist?); Disraeli verbosely saying nothing about the so-called Indian ‘mutiny’ 1857 (‘the East as a career’); and the question of legalizing Opium in China and the advent of Matheson-Jardine Company after the East India Company comes to an end (‘quid pro quo’). All of this brings us back to the realities of global investment and regeneration in Europe today, as international capital returns to the port of London to redevelop the old East India Company shipyards in Deptford.”

15/5/2014, 21h, Cinema Europa, Zagreb, Croatia
John Hutnyk: Quid pro quo: the East as a career
7th Subversive festival: “Power and Freedom in the Time of Control”
Moderator: Bernard Koludrović

Danish colonial ties

Danskemaritime

Some maritime gems in the library yesterday… ”Serampore had a certain importance to the illicit Anglo-Danish trade thanks to its facilities for anonymity and customs easements’ (Feldbaek 1969:199). Indeed, Feldbaek suggests that because of English East India Company restrictions, some 80-90% of goods sent from Bengal to Copenhagen were not consumed in Copenhagen, but moved along in various ways to London as the goods were shipped by English and Anglo-Indian traders working under Danish flags. In the late 18th century he suggests Serampore was more important than Tranquebar for the Asiatic trade (p232). This is in large part remittances because ‘by far the most part of the Anglo-Indian fortunes had to be sent to England through the foreign European companies (Feldbaek 1969:27) and banned ‘country trade’ by English EIC officials had been ‘driven underground and forced to seek cover of foreign European flags’ (Feldbaek 1969:11).

The East as a Career – talk 22.5.2014

  • Logo Universität Hamburg

  • Institut für Volkskunde / Kulturanthropologie

  • 16. Mai 2014 | Studium und Lehre

    Do. 22.5. | Kollaboratives Forschen mit John Hutnyk

    John Hutnyk, London: “The East as a career: Marx Writing Capital and the Value of Bengal.”

    Um 18.15 Uhr in Raum 220

     

David Sunderland Financing the Raj

Quite a start for this book, keen to know more (but need to find a copy I can afford):

Sunderland David Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 09.58.23

Reviewed here:

> Citation: Sumit Guha. Review of Sunderland, David, _Financing the
> Raj: the City of London and Colonial India, 1858-1940_. H-Empire,
> H-Net Reviews. April, 2014.
> URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=41407

Upwards (for profit) – the silver bodgie strikes.

The Whampoa and Kowloon Dock company was founded by William Jardine of Jardine Matheson, shipbuilders, jade merchants and opium traders; Douglas Lapraik, watchmaker and shipbuilder; Thomas Sutherland Founder of the HSBC bank, managing director of P&O, member of parliament, leader of the Liberal opposition; and Jas Whittal, manager for Jardine Matheson (Feldwick 1917). Fortunes made from opium, or from the provision of port facilities to opium traders, facilitated vast wealth extraction. Skip a hundred years and the docklands need attention, enter the modern avatar: the Hutchinson Whampoa corporation is presently 49% owned by Cheung group, led by Li Ka-Shing since 1977, the 8th richest person in the world – it owns the 3 phone network, hotel chains apartment house, mining, telecommunications, philanthropist. And coming soon to Deptford…

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This below is just in from the Architecture Journal.

Boris approves Farrells’ £1bn Convoys Wharf scheme

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has approved Terry Farrells’ £1bn Convoys Wharf scheme in Deptford, south east London

Farrell’s masterplan for the 40 acre site, which was submitted for outline planning back in May last year, includes 3,500 new homes, shops, restaurants, and public space.

A plea from the scheme’s developer Hutchinson Whampoa resulted in the application being ‘called in’ by Johnson back in October, after Lewisham Council’s 16 week period to make a decision expired.

Johnson said: ‘We need to build thousands of new homes in the capital and proposals to do that at Convoys Wharf have stalled for far too long. I am pleased that we have been able to work on a scheme that will have enormous social and economic benefits for local people while preserving the heritage aspects of the site.’

The planning approval includes a section 106 agreement which requires City Hall planners to meet with Lewisham and Hutchison Whampoa to come up with an alternative scheme for Sayes Court Garden, and to build a community centre with a primary school at the centre of the site.

The developer has also been requested to fund a feasibility study into the building of a replica of the Lenox warship which was built on the site, looking into how it can be incorporated into the regeneration of the historic site.

The site in Deptford which has been derelict for the past 14 years is said to be one of the largest potential sites for new housing in the capital.

 

Go see Convoys Wharf on Saturday

Convoys Wharf Site to Participate in Open House 2013
Hutchison Whampoa are delighted to announce they will be opening the Convoys Wharf site to the public on Saturday 21st September 2013, as part of the London Open House.

Open access to the site will take place between 11am-5pm. Visitors can look forward to viewing an exhibition of the masterplan proposals in the historic Olympia warehouse, while meeting members of the Convoys Wharf development team and also enjoy a riverfront pop-up café.

Open House London celebrates London’s premium buildings, places and neighbourhoods and offers a cost free, unique opportunity annually to discover the the city’s innovative architecture, with over 700 buildings of all kinds opening their doors to everyone.

To find out more about London Open House 2013 and to see what other activities are taking place around London, please visit their website at:

http://www.londonopenhouse.org

See also:
here,
here and here

This, from the East India Company ship yards to the return of Whampoa opium capital to London, is the topic of my talk the day before at the Zeitgeist workshop in Bielefeld.

Sayes Court Garden (by Roo Angell and Bob Bagley)

John Evelyn’s garden at Sayes Court was one of the most famous and revolutionary gardens of its time.  Evelyn’s many visitors included his friends Samuel Pepys and Christopher Wren, and even Charles II himself.  Through surviving documentary evidence the garden’s legacy lives on, but the garden itself fell into sad neglect shortly after his death in 1706, and through the vacillations of fate has come down to us today as a corner of the parcel of Thames-side Deptford known as Convoys Wharf.  Now scheduled for development, the current owners intend to build directly where the most innovative and influential parts of the garden lay, destroying any future possibilities for discovery.  The project Sayes Court Garden is founded on the belief that this crucial piece of our national heritage is not only a once-beautiful historic garden, but also has a vital role to play in the success of the new development for the community at large.
Deptford is now perceived as a deprived neighbourhood of south-east London, classified as an Opportunity Area in the Mayor’s London Plan.  The forty acres of Convoys Wharf dominate the river; long closed off to the public at large, at first glance it looks like any other brownfield site in need of some urgent and much welcome development.  However, this is not entirely the case.  The whole site has a rich history, and just under the concrete skin lie not only the origins of the garden, but also the granite docks and slipways of Henry VIII’s Royal Dockyard, founded in 1513.  For 350 years this was the foremost Naval Dockyard in the realm; Raleigh, Drake and Cook all have their stories here.  In Evelyn’s time the manor of Sayes Court was walled off from the Dockyard, but they were closely linked.
In 1856 what remained of the house and grounds were purchased by the Admiralty and incorporated into the expanding Dockyard.  As new ships became too large with the silting up of the Thames, the site was sold.  The proposals from the current owners, Hutchison Whampoa, consist of 3,514 new homes in a mixed-use development, to include retail and office space, a primary school and a working wharf.  The success and longevity of such a development depends to a large extent on a sensitive response to the site and its surroundings – both cultural and physical.  To achieve these aims the design needs to be distinctive and engaging: heritage assets hold the key.  Restoring John Evelyn’s garden at Sayes Court would bring immeasurable benefits to the area, and stimulate interest and recognition from around the world.  Along with the potential to mark Henry VIII’s Dockyard on the same site, this neglected corner of London could become a tourist destination in its own right, complementing nearby Greenwich along the Thames Path.  For the neighbourhood itself, this extraordinary garden could help to define the character of the new development, giving a strong sense of identity and becoming a source of local pride.
One of the most exciting aspects of the project is the garden’s capacity to function as an open space under the democratic guardianship of the community: a new “common”.  It would be a place of delight and beauty for everyone to enjoy, a challenge to the trend which sees access to our exceptional heritage reserved for the wealthier boroughs.  Planting the numerous trees and medicinal herbs would bring sorely needed and ever-increasing advantages to health and the local environment, and the garden could become once again the setting for experiments and research.  All in all, it would be a fitting remembrance for two great and generous-hearted men who dedicated their lives to improving conditions for all strata of society: John Evelyn himself and also his descendant, William John Evelyn, who donated his ancestor’s garden to the people of Deptford.  After everything that has since passed, it is proper that it should belong to the public again.
Hutchison Whampoa need to be persuaded that these benefits outweigh any difficulties in re-structuring part of their design or possibly losing a small portion of building land.  The current proposals completely ignore Sayes Court Garden, and support is urgently needed if this unique piece of London’s past is to be saved – to become part of our future.

 

Roo Angell and Bob Bagley

Deptford is… – post on Convoys Wharf transport issues.

Convoys Wharf transport #2: public transport

posted on Deptford is... 6 July 2013
One of the strongest arguments against allowing Convoys Wharf to be developed to the density that Hutchison Whampoa is suggesting, is the fact that the public transport accessibility of the site is so poor.
This situation has not improved with the new masterplan, so many of the comments made in our last assessment still apply. Many of the people living in these new properties will have to travel into London for work on a daily basis, so how will they do this?
Planners measure public transport accessibility by measuring it on the PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) scale. This provides an assessment of how easy it is to get from the site to public transport, and ranges from 1 to 6, with 1 being the lowest rating and 6 the highest. In London a rating of 4 is generally a good level for major developments such as this to aspire to.
The PTAL rating of Convoys Wharf ranges from 1 to 2 across the site, with 2 being the level at the exit on Princes Street. With Hutchison Whampoa’s plans for redevelopment, the rating will rise very slightly, but will still be an average of 2 across the site, and 3 closest to Princes St.
The diagram below indicates the transport plans for the site – in simple terms, HW is in discussion with TfL about the possibility of having a pier for the Thames Clipper river bus, and also proposes either a new bus through the site, or the diversion of one of the existing services that go along Evelyn Street, the 199 having been suggested.

For a Thames Clipper service to call at the site will require the refurbishment of the existing jetty and the construction of a new pier on the jetty. Although TfL has acknowledged the possibility of a new pier at Convoys Wharf, there is no firm commitment to a date other than during phase one, which is five years long. There is also no confirmation of whether the service would be the regular London-bound boats, or just a shuttle boat to Canary Wharf.In either case, use of the riverbus service is impractical for many people – not only in terms of its restricted capacity, but also because it serves so few destinations and is slow in comparison to other public transport options.Aside from the bus and boat services, future residents at Convoys Wharf will have to travel somewhat further afield to access trains or DLR services. Naturally Deptford station is the closest train station to the development, and as the transport strategy points out, the station has recently been refurbished. But although the station is now more pleasant to use and easier to access, and the capacity of the station itself may have been increased, there has been no change to the capacity of the actual trains.The analysis of available capacity on services from Deptford station depends heavily on completion of Crossrail in 2018; this is predicted to reduce the number of people using London-bound trains from Woolwich, and is entirely credible. However there is no reference to the most recent Office of Rail Regulation figures which showed Deptford station experienced 7.1% increase in usage last year, and this is expected to continue as redevelopments continue and residents move into the new properties.According to the trip generation figures, 258 people from Convoys Wharf will take the train towards London in the morning peak hour between 8am and 9am. This seems a very low figure considering the total population that could number 10,000 or more. But even taking this point aside, the addition of around 44 passengers to each already-overcrowded train is not a pleasant prospect.Bus services are also likely to suffer – while the transport plan envisages a bus route through the site, there is no firm commitment to a new service as yet, so it could well be an existing route diverted and hence making journeys longer and more overcrowded than they are now. Almost 500 people from the development are estimated will be catching the bus during the morning peak hour, many presumably going towards Underground or Overground services elsewhere.

Meanwhile less than 200 will catch a river bus, although with only four services in the peak hour, that’s still an estimated 50 per boat. The boats in the current fleet each have 220 seats.

“Battle of Convoys Wharf”

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 10.09.43Evening Standard piece on Convoys Wharf by Kieren Long

Published: 26 October 2011

Does it matter what’s underneath the pavement? Under our feet, in the earth, are the traces of the 2,000 years of Londoners, their coins and clothes, their trinkets and tools, the remains of their buildings and roads.

The question of whether this material, this soup of memories, should have any bearing on how our city develops is an open one for those building our city today, and one that has sparked an argument over the massive Convoys Wharf site in Deptford, which I visited last week. If Hong Kong developer Hutchison Whampoa gets its way, this 16-hectare riverside plot (the size of about 20 football pitches) in the borough of Lewisham will soon be home to 9,000 people in 3,500 homes, with a new school, shops and space for “cultural uses”.

So far, so good. But this isn’t just any slice of the river. Convoys Wharf was formerly the King’s Yard, built by Henry VIII in 1513 as London’s military dock and known across the world. It was the harbour to royal yachts, where Francis Drake was knighted aboard the Golden Hinde in 1581, and where Elizabeth I’s Spanish Armada-defeating fleet was built. It is a place of astonishing, nationally important historical significance.

Greenwich, just a mile down-river, with its colonnaded Old Royal Naval College, has become a world heritage site and will officially become a “Royal” borough next year. But it was Deptford that built the boats that made England powerful enough to conceive of and fund that architectural setpiece in the first place.

The plan submitted by Hutchison Whampoa is a regulation piece of urban design by commercial architect Aedas. It’s pretty uninspired, with the usual precision about residential unit numbers but vagueness about the kind of public life that might be found there. But the plan tries hard to link into its surroundings, and the proposed development will be much better than the gated communities of riverside west London. There is a recognisable street pattern, a bus route through it, along with a school and an attempt to make a high street with a mix of uses. Broadly, the plan is based on work in 2005 by Richard Rogers, whose principal insight was to try to continue the line of Deptford’s high street towards the riverside.

Perhaps most importantly, it also proposes public access to the riverside here for the first time.

But a group of local people accuse Hutchison Whampoa of recklessly ignoring the historical remains, and are pleading with the developers to reconsider their plan. They say the site should be given back more of its original character, that ancient remains below the ground should be available to public view, and that water should be reintroduced to the site by digging out the former Great Basin of the dockyard.

Chris Mazeika, who lives in the Master Shipwright’s house on the eastern side of the site, is part of a network of local bloggers and campaigners asking questions of Hutchison Whampoa’s proposal. He believes that there is something important about the history of the site that should be drawn out by revealing the remains or perhaps echoing the original layout of the dockyard.

“To reveal the remains would make it a much more distinctive and layered place,” he says. “When you walk down a road that has been established by hundreds of years of getting from A to B, and one that’s drawn by a planner – it’s a very different experience.”

The site today is rather eerie, a huge expanse of concrete with a few Sixties and Eighties warehouses still standing. There are no roads and no sense of how it all once fitted together. The riverside is spectacular, though. The wharf juts out into the river and the view from it takes in a vista from Surrey Quays to the west and Greenwich to the east. This timber platform will be transformed into a public park in Hutchison Whampoa’s plans, complete with river bus stop.

The Grade II-listed Olympia Warehouse (built in the 1840s) stands in the middle of the site, slightly askew to the riverside, a magnificent iron structure most recently used by Lewisham council as a storage facility for wheelie bins. It is the only historic building left above ground, and the proposals designate it vaguely as a “covered public square”. They aspire to something along the lines of Spitalfields Market. This all feels a bit sketchy at this stage, and the developer’s preference is to retain just the beautiful iron frame, perhaps adding to it a new glass envelope.

In anticipation of these remains being covered up by the new development, a huge archaeological dig is under way between the Olympia Warehouse and the river. The foundations and remains of the huge Tudor storehouse and the docks are clearly visible in the trenches. Two slipways, complete with timbers used to brace and support ships as they were constructed, look amazingly complete to my untrained eye. All this will be recorded, then covered over again and the new residential buildings built over the top. The remains will never be seen again, or at least not until Hutchison Whampoa’s buildings are themselves demolished, which could be 200 years away at London rates of replacement.

It must be said that the King’s Yard has long lost its Tudor character. Since the Second World War, successive idiotic owners chose to demolish the remaining buildings on the site and fill in the basin and slipways. Most jaw-dropping of all is that in stages between the Sixties and as recently as the Eighties, a Tudor storehouse was demolished and its foundations concreted over so that huge distribution sheds and warehouses could be built.

It is heartbreaking that so much has been lost.

None of that is Hutchison Whampoa’s fault. The group and its architects see Convoys Wharf as an opportunity to create a residential quarter they believe will be “modern and positive”. The architects say that the arrangement of the proposed apartment buildings perpendicular to the river somehow mirrors that of the historic slipways, and a proposed park on the site of the former double dry dock will evoke the history of what’s underneath, perhaps by using materials that suggest its former use. That to them is enough. My visit to the site convinced me that while the developers are very aware of what lies beneath, they don’t feel it of sufficient significance to prevent or slow London’s development. Aedas and Hutchison Whampoas have made a judgment that to preserve any remains for public view, or to reintroduce water into the site (as the Rogers plan proposed) would be uneconomical and (they told me) would be a hindrance rather than a help to make it a better place to live.

As for the campaigners, they are vague about what they are calling for and appeal to notions of memory, meaning and history that are not part of the usual property development vocabulary.

Mazeika, like many of us, finds it difficult to describe exactly what difference it makes to resurrect ancient street patterns, to uncover old docks. He favours gradual, incremental development, but that is never going to happen with such a large site under single ownership.

This seems an unbridgeable intellectual gap in today’s London. The nuanced understanding of the place that the locals advocate here in Deptford is mirrored all over the city by local interest groups, amateur historians, and concerned residents near large regeneration projects. But it has no way of gaining traction in a development process involving this much money, and that is a failure of our planning system and of imagination of the politicians who are the guardians of our city.

I respect Hutchison Whampoa and Aedas for trying to make a decent, mixed place that links into the surrounding community. I think (unlike some Deptford residents) that the scale and character of the spaces around the Olympia Warehouse will be fine, certainly better than the meaningless public spaces at equivalent developments of a decade ago (Paddington Basin comes to mind). The quantum of development, and its skyscraper-scale apartment towers, aren’t a problem to me, and the new public space by the river almost can’t fail to be enjoyable.

But in deploying standard urban design tactics the masterplan does find itself ignoring what makes this place special in the first place. I suspect the history of the site will be signalled in branding and signage more than any real, physical or spatial sense. And while it is a very difficult task to capture all these historical and cultural layers of a city in urban design and architecture, good architects should be able to do it.

When Convoys Wharf has been re-developed, the history of the King’s Yard will lie in a shallow grave underneath shiny apartment blocks and cappuccino bars. Professionals will move into the residential towers, which will probably be named after Drake’s Golden Hinde. And when their dinner party guests ask them where the docks used to be, they will reply: “I don’t know.”

Talk – weds 10th Greenwich U

I’m redoing my east India company in Deptford talk at greenwich next weds. Any new news updates welcome. 

 

image
What are the possibilities beyond middle class NIMBYisms* ? What lies beneath it?
* NIMBYism is a term, usually pejorative, to describe the Not In My Back Yard response of community spaceholders to ‘development’ not of their liking, choosing or design.
Rationale
Negotiations over the built, governed and lived environment are a key struggle of our times. We ask how they occur, what stories they tell and how they may be undertaken in future. This conference aims to connect academics, activists and practitioners interested in engaging, even playing, with the assemblage of built environment, social justice and political ecology, whether supportive or indifferent to recent Localism governmentalities at home or abroad.
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Format
The afternoon will begin with a keynote lecture from cultural theorist Prof John Hutnyk, followed by six short presentations and close with a screening of Riot From Wrong, a documentary exploring the London riots of August 2011.

Discussion and networking will be facilitated throughout with time and light refreshments. To help with logistics attendees are requested to email me on fuad.ali@gre.ac.uk by 5th July.

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Speaker lineup

The East as a Career: from Deptford to Calcutta and back, the present prehistory of the Convoys Wharf development
John Hutnyk, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths (Keynote)

The Campaign Against Water Privatisation in Italy: Democratising Water from Below
Emanuele Lobina, Public Services International Research Unit, University of Greenwich

Unlimited dreams in limited spaces. The case of Geneva Camp, Dhaka
Ruhul Abdin, Paraa

Infertile ground: planting community gardeners to the bottom of the New York City garden movement (thesis submission permitting)
Liat Racin, Department of Geography, King’s College London

Regeneration for whom? The Battle of Lewisham Gateway
Helen Mercer, Campaigner

NIMBYtecture
Tim McGinley, Technologies for Sustainable Built Environments Centre, University of Reading

The conceptual range and register of Awkward Localisms
Fuad Ali, Sustainable Built Environment Research Group, University of Greenwich

Details
1pm to 615pm
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Lecture Theatre KW002
King William Court
University of Greenwich
30 Park Row
London SE10 9LS
Nearest station: Greenwich Cutty Sark

And coming soon to a river frontage not so accessible to you…

see the ‘welcome’ message:

Screen shot 2013-05-16 at 12.10.09

a huge amount of planning info is on the site: here is some from the recent consultation with you, the public.

To view materials from previous consultations, please click on the links below:

Exhibition materials February 2013
Exhibition materials July 2012
Exhibition boards July 2012
Convoys Wharf News July 2011
Exhibition displays July 2011
Exhibition displays July 2010
Exhibition displays November 2009

all links to the convoys’ wharf Farrel project site. 

Convoys Wharf

220px-Grove_Street_gateFor some time I’ve been collecting material on housing locally. Time to start sorting through it all. And as its been a while since I started a new topic/category on this blog, there is now one called ‘regeneration’. This is linked to my port research. Here is a recent piece from the Deptford is… blog as a starter. Click the link at the bottom to read on:

 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Convoys Wharf plans: ‘everything that is wrong with our property industry’.

An opinion piece in the property industry weekly Estates Gazette has given an excoriating assessment of the new Farrell masterplan for Convoys Wharf. The column was written by Paula Hirst, head of regeneration at Mazars (and incidentally also one of hopefuls competing to be chosen as prospective parliamentary candidate for the Lewisham Deptford seat).

As the introduction to the article explains, Hirst ‘offers her thoughts on a scheme which seems to hark back to the 80s…’

Thursday’s London Evening Standard heralded “a £1bn vision to transform Deptford”, announcing a new scheme on the Thames-fronted Convoys Wharf site by Sir Terry Farrell. 

With a plan to “turn the rundown riverside neighbourhood into a thriving ‘Shoreditch of south London'”, the scheme proposals are to include 3,500 homes, shops, restaurants and a primary school, alongside three new parks. Oh, and three high-rise towers of up to 48 storeys (yes, you did read that right), with luxury apartments at the top. 

Read more here.