South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Agricultural Commodity Platforms: Assembly, Integration, Exclusion

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

The platform, it has been recently suggested, is a term that is at once more capacious, precise and generative in specifying and analyzing economic life than dominant descriptors of a (free) market economy. ‘The concept of the platform economy,’ Jane Guyer (2016) suggests depicts ‘a combination of ‘architecture, standard applications, and spaces for novel performances’: a stage that supports and integrates diverse forms and times together – and a structure vulnerable to being crashed. This paper explores the possibilities and limitations of the platform – as an empirical construct and as an analytic – through a comparison of two contemporary platforms for agricultural commodity exchange in India. The first is a concrete open outcry auction platform in a regional agricultural market (mandi) in small-town central India. The second is a newly launched digital platform called the e-NAM or Electronic National Agricultural Market. For the e-NAM, the physical mandi platform is conceptualized as its ‘back-end’; for the mandi the e-NAM is a terminus without a point of origin. One aspires to ‘seamless integration’, the other seeks to profit from life at the seam. How do these platforms actually work? What sorts of architectural forms are they? How are agricultural commodities assembled, exchanged, and distributed along these platforms? What forms of inclusion and exclusion do they produce and sustain? How are they maintained and manipulated? How are build-up and breakdown related? An ethnographic engagement with agricultural commodity platforms provides initial insights on these old and new questions of political economy.

Mekhala Krishnamurthy

Shiv Nadar University, India


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2 - Agricultural Commodity Platforms: Assembly, Integration, Exclusion

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