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Production Cycles and Decline in Traditional Iron Smelting in the Maidan, Southern India, c. 1750-1950: An Environmental History Perspective

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This paper explores how economics, technology, politics and ecology interacted in causing ups and downs in the production of traditional iron making, and its subsequent decline in the early twentieth century. In the course of this exercise we find many lacunae in the study of Indian environmental history. These include a neglect of the impact of traditional iron and steel smelting industry on forests in pre- and early-colonial times, the possible strategic motive in controlling iron and steel production through control of charcoal production, the institutional mechanism of forest use for industrial purposes and the role of ecology in the decline of traditional industry. Some of these are important questions for those who seek to reintroduce traditional technologies. A study of history throws up interesting clues on how we could correct mistakes made in the past so as to plan more effectively for the future.
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Keywords: charcoal; colonial India; deforestation; forest policy; iron smelting; pre-colonial India

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2018) of 0.800. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.918.
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