French mercantile endeavors in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century India were marked by novel intersections of aesthetics, science, and often violent commercialism. Connecting all of these worlds were the thriving textile industries of India's Coromandel Coast. This book focuses on the integration of the Coromandel textile industries with French colonies in India from the founding of the French East India Company in 1664 to its debilitating defeat by the British during the Seven Years' War. Narratives of British trade and colonialism have long dominated eighteenth-century histories of India, overshadowing the French East India Company's far-reaching sphere of influence and its significant integration into the political and cultural worlds of South India. As this study shows, the visual and material cultures of eighteenth-century France and India were deeply connected, and together shaped the century's broader debates about mercantilism, liberalism, and the global trade of goods, ideas, and humans.
Liza Oliver is the Diana Chapman Walsh Assistant Professor in Art History and South Asia Studies at Wellesley College.