An Ethnographic Insight on Border-Markets: Reflections from the Indo-Bhutan Border

Roychowdhary, Shrrijiet ; Agarwal, Shivani ; Singh, Mansi ; Singh, Vanshika

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Border spaces evolve as critical points of intersection between distinct economies and cultures. Local border markets, both within and across border spaces, often stand out in comparison to other local market structures as fascinating areas of ethnographic study. This is because they involve people across cultures, belonging to different demographics and sovereignties, who come together for the purpose of economic exchange. The Trans-Himalayan Border region has been widely studied as regards the nature of economic and cultural transactions across bordering nations. India shares land borders with seven nations (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China) and has an extensive border trade - both informal and formal - with almost all its neighbours. This study seeks to understand the nature of the border markets located between India and Bhutan, through a detailed ethnographic account of a local market identified as case study: the Dadgiri border market (Hatisar) in India. It also contains a narrative of the visit to the Bhutanese side of the border, including a detailed account of the Gelephu market. These two markets are both located in close proximity (within 1-2 km) to the borders of Bhutan and India and host participants from both nations (as well as from Nepal).This study’s focus has been on the analysis of the economic geography of the Dadgiri market, the informal nature of transactions, the products sold and profits made by local merchants. We aim to obtain a better understanding of borders through the lens of local markets. Our methodological framework - an ethnographic line of enquiry - allows us to present a broader overview for studying economic relations within border market spaces, which in turn helps provide an enhanced, context-rich perspective on both inter- and intra-border relations between nations and explore the potential for border markets to play a critical role in shaping economic partnerships between nations (India and Bhutan in this case).

Document type: Book
Publisher: SADF - South Asia Democratic Forum
Place of Publication: Brussels
Date: 2020
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2021
Number of Pages: 32
Faculties / Institutes: Miscellaneous > Individual person
DDC-classification: Economics
Commerce, communications, transport
Geography and travel
Controlled Keywords: Indien, Bhutan, Grenzverkehr, Grenze, Handel
Uncontrolled Keywords: Grenzen, Grenzmärkte, Indo-Bhutan, Straßenverkäufer, Informalität, Ethnographische Studie, Indien, Bhutan, Wirtschaft / Borders, Border Markets, Indo-Bhutan, Street Vendors, Informality, Ethnographic study, India, Bhutan, Economy
Subject (classification): Geography and Country Studies
Countries/Regions: Bhutan
Series: Themen > SADF Working Papers
Volume: 20