ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Construction of Identity and Patronage in Madras

New Social Elites and the Early Colonial State

When the Europeans began to trade in India, their commerce was completely dependent on the services of the Indian mercantile class who served as the conduits to the primary producers and local markets. This relationship did not change materially after the European enclaves of Madras and Pondicherry were established. It was, however, redefined, since the indigenous merchants in these early colonial port cities were, at least formally, subservient to the authority of the Europeans. At the same time, the growing importance of the local merchants in these commercial centres created an opening and a space for them in indigenous society through which they could create a new identity for themselves as the new social elite and patrons of local institutions, arts and culture.



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