Marketplaces are central in the lives and livelihoods of urban and rural people in the Pacific and Asia. This session will explore these spaces of contestation, belonging and exclusion, and the moral considerations market actors negotiate in their daily interactions with known and unknown others.
Open-air marketplaces are central institutions in the lives and livelihoods of urban and rural people throughout the Pacific and Asia. From large, permanent urban fixtures to small clusters of sellers periodically occupying a roadside corner or village clearing, these public spaces are important sites of trade but also of social exchange. In marketplaces people interact with both known and unknown others, notably in relationships around money. In doing so they grapple with moral considerations about how they ought to act with one another. Marketplaces are frequently sites of contestation, amongst marketplace actors (vendors, customers, and onlookers) themselves, and with the state. They are also characterised by power asymmetries, making them spaces of belonging and comfort for some, and fear and insecurity for others. Marketplaces have also been subject to particular moralistic visions by governments and development agencies about what these spaces should look like and how they should function. These spaces are also frequently enlisted in other projects - criminality, gambling, HIV/AIDS awareness, evangelising - that raise questions of morality. In this session we seek papers that explore different dimensions of morality in the marketplace including, but not limited to, who belongs, how people should interact and transact, the modes of regulation that shape these spaces, how different practices within the marketplace are perceived, and which activities are considered legitimate (and in who's eyes). We seek papers that are empirically grounded and theoretically engaged which examine issues of morality and marketplaces in the Pacific and Asia.