Planting 'Improvement': Tea in British India

  • Arnab Dey Department of History, State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton
Schlagworte: tea, British India, development regimes, agro-economy, plantation history


This paper provides a critical reflection on the operational logic, ideological inconsistencies, and material fallout of the tea plantation economy of northeastern India, a large-scale commercial enterprise that induced transformative changes to the region's biosocial landscape for a century and more. Unlike existing works on the subject, however, this study focuses on agro-economic ideology – namely the relationship between the crop and its built environment – to highlight the impact of tea on labor, disease ecology, and modernist parables of "progress" in British East India.