Arnab DeySep 7, 2021
Tea Environments and Plantation Culture
Imperial Disarray in Eastern India
Cambridge University Press 2021
In Tea Environments and Plantation Culture: Imperial Disarray in Eastern India (Cambridge UP, 2021), Arnab Dey examines the intersecting role of law, ecology, and agricultural sciences in shaping the history of tea plantations in British Colonial India. He suggests that looking afresh at the legal, environmental, and agro-economic aspects of tea production illuminate covert, expedient, and often illegal administrative and commercial dealings that had an immediate and long-term human and environmental impact on the region. Critiquing this imperial commodity's advertised mandate of agrarian modernization in colonial India, Dey points to numerous tea pests, disease ecologies, felled forests, harsh working conditions, wage manipulation, and political resistance as examples of tea's unseemly legacy in the subcontinent. Dey draws together the plant and the plantation in highlighting the ironies of the tea economy and its consequences for the agrarian history of eastern India.