SeaOfPoppies - Vyvijal 1 Shannon Vyvijal Professor Kim HIST 1800 God Supports Our War and Other British Falsities The 18th century marked a

SeaOfPoppies - Vyvijal 1 Shannon Vyvijal Professor Kim...

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Vyvijal 1 Shannon Vyvijal Professor Kim HIST 1800 4/18/17 God Supports Our War and Other British Falsities The 18 th century marked a significant change in the trading dynamics in maritime Asia. Old European powers, such as the Spanish and Portuguese, began to decline in their dominance of maritime Asian trade. Instead, Britain took the lead as the kingpin of trade in the region of southern Asia and China. Their joint-stock company, the English East India Company, enabled them to achieve huge profits and success in controlling territory in maritime Asia. In Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, Benjamin Burnham and his company epitomize the EEIC’s imperialist behavior during the eighteenth and nineteenth century through their strategies used to control their territories and beliefs of the natives’ inferiority. Burnham is a wealthy, devoutly religious Englishman who builds his company, Burnham Bros., through transporting convicts and indentured servants. Eventually, the wealth generated from this business venture allows Burnham to participate as a country trader in the EEIC’s opium auctioning in Calcutta. Throughout the novel, his character’s actions influence all figures involved in the EEIC’s opium trade, giving the reader a clear understanding of how British presence in maritime Asia affected all levels of their society. Ultimately, Ghosh uses the effects of Burnham’s belief in British superiority and God-given right to free trade to show that European presence in maritime Asia produced disastrously negative impacts on the native population’s way of life. As a self-made, English businessman, Burnham strives to achieve British dominance over the maritime Asian trade and spread Britain’s modern, civilized, superior ways to Asia. Unlike
Vyvijal 2 the Portuguese and Spanish, Burnham and his British counterparts seek to permeate all aspects of maritime Asian life by creating not just a commercial, but also territorial empire. Burnham locates the center of his firm’s trading empire in Calcutta, the hub for all EEIC opium auctioning. Calcutta was one of the first major British trading bases and provides Burnham with two main benefits. First, his Indian associate, Neel Rattan Halder, lives nearby in a zemindary in Raskhali. Halder served as the landowning aristocrat of that West Bengal region, collecting land tax from the people working the land and later investing the collected tax money in Burnham’s firm. This was a mutually beneficial relationship, as Neel explains, “Year after year, with British and American traders growing ever more skilled in evading Chinese laws, the market for opium expanded, and the Raja and his associates made handsome profits on their investment […] The family’s financial survival depended on their dealings with Mr. Benjamin Burnham; the more they

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