ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

25 – Thinking with markets: Practices and codes of engagement in South Asian economic milieus

Markets in South Asia are experienced in diverse contexts: through the gentrification of neighbourhoods, social welfare programmes, everyday household provisioning, hip cafés, inequalities in access to public resources, or micro-credit institutions.

Convenors

Schwecke Sebastian - Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, Max Weber Foundation, Delhi, India
Pani Samprati - Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, Max Weber Foundation, Delhi, India
Rajaram Poorva - Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India

Long Abstract

Markets in South Asia are experienced in diverse contexts: through the gentrification of neighbourhoods, social welfare programmes, everyday household provisioning, hip cafés, inequalities in access to public resources, or micro-credit institutions. Encounters with markets are imbricated into the texture of socio-cultural life. The conceptualization of markets as socially embedded is, however, not simply a matter of the economic being subordinate to the social or a quintessential South Asian way of ‘doing’ markets. It instead recognizes that the character of markets is not given but dependent on human action. Markets are dense sites of intersection, the components and trajectories of which are highly contextual and reveal continuities, disruptions and juxtapositions. Thinking with markets provides an entry into understanding the dynamic tensions that co-constitute economic milieus and social landscapes in South Asia.

This panel invites papers on the history and ethnography of market practices in South Asia, steering beyond neat categories of ‘economy’, ‘society’ and ‘culture’. Thinking with markets as they adapt or reinvent over time and through everyday practices complicates the dichotomies of formal versus informal, modern versus traditional, personalized versus anonymous, global versus local, and so on, to make sense of this important space of social interaction that transgresses these categories. The panel seeks to promote interdisciplinary conversations on markets to highlight the plurality of South Asian markets and recalibrate how markets have been discursively produced.