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Empires of ViceThe Rise of Opium Prohibition across Southeast Asia$
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Diana S. Kim

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172408

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172408.001.0001

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Disastrous Abundance in French Indochina, 1920s–1940s

Disastrous Abundance in French Indochina, 1920s–1940s

(p.153) 6 Disastrous Abundance in French Indochina, 1920s–1940s
Empires of Vice

Diana S. Kim

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks to Indochina in the 1920s, when the French colonial state was reporting comparably high shares of revenue from opium taxes to British Malaya. It identifies a very different set of concerns animating local administrators who misreported official revenue numbers while struggling to manage an opium monopoly that ran itself into bankruptcy. The chapter traces a process through which a minor accounting measure in 1925, originally designed to allow emergency liquidity for purchasing foreign opium, became an entrenched mechanism for artificially balancing the budget, which slowly accumulated into a crisis of overdrawn accounts and unpaid debts that threatened the financial viability of colonial government. These were known as the cessions fictives. While at first a minor accounting practice within the legal boundaries of colonial administration, these cessions fictives were repeated in following years and became an entrenched mechanism for balancing the colony's budget.

Keywords:   French Indochina, French colonial states, misreporting, bankruptcy, emergency liquidity, cessions fictives, accounting practices, colonial budgets, Indochina

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