TIRTHANKAR ROY: Current Research

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Edited with Giorgio Riello (University of Warwick). London: Bloomsbury, 2018.

What are the problems addressed by the growing field of global economic history? What debates and methodologies does it engage with? Global Economic History, with contributions from 22 leading academics, explains why a global perspective matters to economic history. The ambitious scope of topics ranges from the ‘Great Divergence’ to the rise of global finance, to the New World and the global silver economy.

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July 2018: Are economic historians wasting time on divergence?

June 2018: The South Asian Miracle: Why did it happen? Is it sustainable?

State capacity and the Economic History of Colonial India

Two things motivated this project - one of these was Chris Bayly's question, how British or European was the colonial state in British India, and another an emerging literature in global economic history on the fiscal capacity of the colonial states in Asia and Africa. I join the two, asking, was British India an unprcedented type of state in the region, measured in fiscal capacity? I show that it was. Its fiscal capacity was larger than that of the precolonial states, and based on different foundations, such as centralization of finance and securitization of public debt. Nevertheless, the effort to raise finance hit a barrier, which had owed to the separation of debt from revenue operations, and the location of public debt and monetary system in London. Did the barrier matter? By keeping markets open, the colonial state served private enterprise, but its failure to sustain growth in fiscal capacity compromised social welfare.

Paper under revision-resubmit with an economic history journal.