Informal and Everyday Markets: Modern Histories of Indian Business and Entrepreneurship since the Nineteenth Century

18.-20.06.2014, Workshop, Göttingen

Convener: Dr. Ingo Köhler (University of Göttingen); Dr. Sebastian Schwecke (University of Göttingen); Dr. Christina Lubinsiki (GHI Washington); Prof. Dr. Douglas Haynes (Dartmouth College) 

Venue: University of Göttingen 

Business history has become an established field in the academic discourse of Europe, the United States, and Japan. In contrast, our knowledge of the history of markets and (especially informal) business in India is fragmentary at best. Despite the excellent pioneering work by B. R. Tomlinson, Dwijendra Tripathi and other "first movers", there is a significant disconnect between the great interest in India's contemporary economy and the ignorance towards its historical roots.

The workshop sets out to explore histories of Indian markets, business and entrepreneurship in the global as well as local context. It focuses on the informal and everyday markets - including labor and credit markets - during the nineteenth and twentieth century which are so crucial for Indian business history but are seldom made a focal point of analysis. By inviting scholars to pay special attention to the informality of economic transactions and on the inter-personal characteristics of markets instead of their abstract nature, we hope to shed some light on markets that too often are left as conceptual black boxes and taken for granted. Markets are often described by their institutional set-ups and formal regulations alone, leaving their underpinnings on informal cultural values, social embedment, informal exchanges, traditional everyday interactions, and in some cases even illegal activities unaddressed.