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Malfeasance and the Foundations for Global Trade: The Structure of English Trade in the East Indies, 1601-1833

Erikson, Emily; Bearman, Peter Shawn

Drawing on a remarkable data set compiled from ships’ logs, journals, factory correspondence, ledgers, and reports that provide unusually precise information on each of the 4,572 voyages taken by English traders of the East India Company (hereafter EIC), we describe the EIC trade network over time, from 1601 to 1833. From structural images of voyages organized by shipping seasons, the authors map (over time and space) the emergence of dense, fully integrated, global trade networks to reveal globalization long before what is now called “globalization.” The authors show that the integration of the world trade system under the aegis of the EIC was the unintended by-product of systematic individual malfeasance (private trading) on the part of ship captains seeking profit from internal Eastern trade.

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Published In
American Journal of Sociology
Publisher DOI
https://doi.org/10.1086/502694
Volume
112
Issue
1
Pages
195 - 230
Publisher
University of Chicago Press
Academic Units
Sociology
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