MWS OPUS Workshop

Agricultural Market Transformation: Past, Present, Future

with Barbara Harriss-White

24 March 2023, The Claridges, New Delhi

This is the first in the MWS OPUS series of workshops with distinguished scholars, where participants will read and critically engage with a selection of texts from the opus of respective scholars. This workshop with MWS’s Distinguished Research Fellow Barbara Harriss-White will examine a selection of her vast body of literature from field economics that is accessible to non-economists to understand transformations in agricultural commodity markets over the last half a century. The workshop will explore, develop and critique the idea that field and analytical approaches developed for the pre- and early-liberalization period are enduringly relevant in the current era. The workshop participants will think with a set of texts around the following broad themes: (i) methodologies of long-term case studies, (ii) economic roles of post-harvest markets, (iii) markets and class relations, (iv) state regulation and market-driven politics, and (v) forms of social authority in the economy.  

Barbara Harriss-White has been engaged in fieldwork across four (now six) districts of India since 1972: North Arcot (now Vellore and Tiruvannamalai) and Coimbatore (now Coimbatore and Tiruppur) in Tamil Nadu and Birbhum and Bardhaman in West Bengal. This long-term research has involved compiling business histories for hundreds of urban and rural wholesale and retail traders, brokers and financers, transporters and processors in towns, villages and periodic markets; interviews with market workers and officials involved in regulating markets; and collecting and analysing prices and official documents. It has generated  an extensive opus of 40 authored and edited/co-edited books and reports, over 270 scholarly papers and chapters, and over 100 working papers. Some of the books published on this research include Transitional Trade and Rural Development: Nature and Role of Agricultural Trade in a South Indian District (1981), Agricultural Change and the Mercantile State: A Study of Public Policy in Tamil Nadu (1985), A Political Economy of Agricultural Markets in South India: Masters of the Countryside (1996), Rural Commercial Capital: Agricultural Markets In West Bengal (2008), Agricultural Markets from Theory to Practice: Field Experience in Developing Countries (ed. 1998),India Working: Essays on Economy and Society (2003) and Middle India and Urban–Rural Development: Four Decades of Change (ed. 2016).

Barbara Harriss-White is Emeritus Professor and Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford University; Visiting Professor, Jawarharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. 

Cite this blog post
IBO Team (2023, July 4). MWS OPUS Workshop. Max Weber Stiftung India Office (MWF Delhi). Retrieved May 18, 2024, from

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