- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Through ethnographic examination of interactions and transactions surrounding three grocery shops at the edge of Thanjavur, the dissertation argues that, as well as working as sites and institutions in their own right, these supposedly "unimportant" and "offstage" shops enable modes of conversation and participation that refuse reflexive characterization. Dismissal of provision shopping as "unremarkable" endows it with distinctive possibilities for speech and action that respond to and shape events that are understood as happening elsewhere, both in the center of Thanjavur and beyond.
Conversations in shops serve to coordinate rhythms of social life, negotiate domestic disputes, keep fragile household economies afloat, and offer forms of protest and participation that are outside the purview of public institutions and distinct from overt political action. By working to shift the boundaries of subjects, social networks, and the obligations that they entail, conversations in grocery shops locate and transform the ways in which debts and money can "work" as valuable.
The dissertation's chapters are organized around four interrelated analytical themes: (1) the forms and limits of equivalence in conversational and commercial exchange; (2) the role of small shops as a "backstage" arena in which space, time, and social belonging are organized in ways that differ from and comment on interactions in other domains; (3) the dialogic production of responsible actors through exchanges of goods and debate over debts; (4) the role of writing and code choice in regimenting these interactions.