Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

4 - A Nazar (eye) for Qismat (fate): Creation of Values in the Gemstone Trade in India-Pakistan

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Kadamba, Lower Ground Floor

Intrinsically, gemstones are merely stones and yet they are perceived by many as commodities that possess qualities of the supernatural. In South Asia, many colored gemstones are said to be capable of changing one’s fate, represent religious devotion or symbolize romance, all beliefs that have kept a struggling gemstone market afloat in India after demonetization and in Pakistan whose northern regions continue to grapple with security issues and tourism. This paper analyzes the many meanings and values ascribed to gemstones which are shaped by complex cosmologies, the political economy, and business practices. Drawing on Arjun Appadurai’s and David Graeber’s theories of value, this paper explores the opaque industry of colored gemstones and the accounts of its consumers from three different sites, Peshawar, Jaipur, and Kolkata, where such commodities are traded to understand how gemstones and its dealers are embedded in multiple economic, social, and political contexts. In studying the relationships between gemstones, geographic origins, and its commercial actors, this paper demonstrates the subjectivities of gem dealers with regard to ethnicity, religion, and nationalism, while arguing that local identities are tied to certain commodities through processes of trade and consumption.

Alice Ping-hsiu Lin

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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4 - A Nazar (eye) for Qismat (fate): Creation of Values in the Gemstone Trade in India-Pakistan



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