Trading communities of a coastal town in India and their communal response to the development process.

Sayed, N. (Speaker), Diaz-Kommonen, L. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference presentation


Trading communities in the small towns of India have been active participants of the development process within their marketplace. They have been adopting to resulting changes of varied development policies while prospering through their trading practice. For generations these trading families have lived together while practicing the changing nature of trade. They have shared space, capital, religious belief and have had close family relationships. Even though divided religiously they form a homogenous whole practicing trade. While being such positive respondents to the development process they were never equal participants in the decision making for the policies designed for them. They have attempted to be part of it by accepting the enforced changes and sometimes through voicing their concerns to government authorities. This paper presents an anthropology of this rigorous trading practice on a market square which proves to be a mirror of the struggle between two different discourses.

We present here a case of a small trading community on a market square, Tapal Naka, in the three hundred years old port town called Panvel. Panvel was a taluka place in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Panvel is going through a tumultuous change as it witnesses a transformation from the first municipality of India to a municipal corporation. Various industrial and residential sectors are being developed around including the international airport. Tapal Naka is getting forcibly altered triggering a dialogue between the administration and the community. We have conducted a careful anthropological research within the community for last three years, adopting various ethnographic methods, one of the strongest being narrative ethnography. Last four generations of the first author of this paper have grown on this square, making this research autoethnographic. By presenting the analysis of the data we aspire to explore the interface between two different discourses valuable for the urban planning of India.
Period22 Feb 2019
Held atSavitribai Phule Pune University, India


  • Anthropology
  • Narrative ethnography
  • Urban development
  • Architecture