Accepted Paper:

Market and state in traditional and modern governance systems: a case study of Joonbeel Mela of Assam  


Dola Borkataki (Tezpur Central University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper highlights the role of market and its relation to state in traditional and modern governance systems. It would also strive to understand market as a mechanism to establish inter-relations not only among people but also between the state and the people.

Paper long abstract:

The paper is an ethnography of the exchange relation between the people of the hills and the plains looking at the role that market played in the traditional governance system and the way it facilitates interaction not only between people belonging to different geographical terrains but also holding different positions in the traditional power structure. Joonbeel Mela, a harvesting festival of the Tiwa tribe of Middle Assam, was initiated under the patronage of the Ahom and the Gobha kingdom purely on political and economic grounds and as a mechanism to establish friendly relations between different kings as well as between the rulers and the ruled is held once a year and is renowned for the traditional barter exchange between Tiwas residing both in the hills and the plains. Being the most beloved festival of the tribe and celebrated with great vigor and enthusiasm, the significance of the Mela also lies in continuing with the historical legacy of paying tribute and offering loyalty to their king; their traditional authority. The paper is an attempt to perceive not only the role that fairs, marts, local markets, and exchange systems played in the traditional governance system but also to understand how traditional exchange system continues be still very relevant among the natives and the influence it has on their lives and their relationships even in the neo liberal era where globalization and global markets have become so indispensable.

Keywords: State, Exchange, Market, Hill-Plain Interaction, Traditional governance.

Panel P017
Governance, development and the state in South Asia