The Laws and Politics of Markets: A Case Study of Food in India

Mar 5, 2013, 11:00am - 12:30pm

Amy Cohen.
Photo Credit: OSU

Amy Cohen, Associate Professor of Law in the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, will present as part of the AEDE seminar series on March 5th in Room 105 of the Agricultural Administration Building (2120 Fyffe Road). Her presentation will focus on "The Laws and Politics of Markets:  A Case Study of Food in India."

Abstract: Through an ethnographic study of agricultural producers, traders, and policymakers in West Bengal, this article examines competing ideologies of markets and the role of law in market transformation. It compares local Indian wholesale markets for fresh fruits and vegetables with the food supply chains created by national and multinational supermarkets, and it analyzes some of the social and distributional effects that introducing a new kind of market will have not only on practices of retail and consumption but also on practices of agricultural production and distribution. Economists describe supermarkets as a paradigmatic market force, spreading market-led development throughout the Global South. A central premise of this article, however, is that supermarkets do not simply expand or enhance market-led growth. Rather they fundamentally restructure what food markets are, how they work, and the legal, jurisdictional, and geographical scales on which they operate. In fact, in important, albeit also in complex and contradictory ways, existing wholesale markets in West Bengal more closely approximate competitive exchange than the standardized, centralized, large-scale contractual transactions required to support a supermarket. The article thus suggests that what we are presently witnessing in India is not, as policy analysts describe it, a shift from state-regulated to privately-governed food supply chains, but rather an effort to reallocate power in the marketplace mediated by new legal and extralegal rules.

This event is open to the public and no RSVP is required. If you have any questions, please contact us