Arming the Periphery: The Arms Trade in the Indian Ocean by Emrys Chew (auth.)

By Emrys Chew (auth.)

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51 In the manifestation of both colonial authority and indigenous ambitions in Asia and Africa, and in the movement of world trade, we find the makings of a small arms trade authentically global in character. 53 Chartered in 1672, the Royal African Company was to become a bonanza for the gun-slave trade cycle, particularly after the Treaty of Utrecht concluding the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713 awarded Britain a vast slave trade monopoly. 54 The records of the Royal African Company underscore the magnitude of English participation.

Various arms control arrangements ensued, all of which showed limitations. The Sand River Convention of 1852 typified the many unsuccessful local initiatives falling short of concerted international action. In southern Central Africa, missionaries and explorers like David Livingstone continued to supply Tswana chiefs with guns for self-defence against encroaching whites, while many white traders and farmers—Boers and English—openly flouted the regulations. 64 Subsequently, even concerted international action scarcely seemed adequate.

But where the French behemoth had exported weapons and mobilized troops on a grand scale, the British leviathan deployed economic resources for military-strategic objectives on an even greater scale. 68 Thus, The Arms Trade and Global Empire in the Indian Ocean 29 although Mysore was a client of the French and a recipient of French flintlocks, it is ironic that as many as two-thirds of the weapons used by the great warlord Haidar Ali and his son Tipu Sultan in the wars of the 1780s against the English East India Company were actually of English manufacture.

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