January 2024

5:00 PM IST

Online via Zoom


Trading on High Ground: Risk and Regulation in Kashmir

Perceptions of Risk in the Himalayas
Aditi Saraf

Aditi Saraf

Assistant Professor
Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University

How does the marketplace become a volatile site of interaction between political violence and everyday life? Drawing on fieldwork in Kashmir, and archival data from colonial commercial regulation, this talk explores how trade is an important field in which - and through which - political power is expressed and contested. Bringing together the social history of trans-Himalayan caravan trade with contemporary flows of goods and payments in Kashmir’s markets reveals complex exchange geographies that defy territorial enclosure and militarized state-building. The talk shows how historical exchange communities - and their credit practices that evolved to facilitate long-distance trade - now face the risk of criminalization as they navigate the increasingly blurred lines between legal and illegal domains of exchange. Furthermore, Dr Saraf argues that states manipulate the uncertainties of trade and exchange in the trans-Himalayas to enforce spatio-political demarcations in disputed “frontier” regions.

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Aditi Saraf

Aditi Saraf's research investigates entanglements between commerce, sovereignty, and ecology in the Kashmir region. More broadly, she is interested in questions relating to economic and political anthropology, frontiers and mobility, militarization and place-making practices. Her writing has been published in American Ethnologist, Economy and Society, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology and The Caravan Magazine, among others.