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Opium poppy husk traders in Rajasthan: The lives and work of businessman in the contemporary Indian opium industry.

de Wilde, Roeland M (2009) Opium poppy husk traders in Rajasthan: The lives and work of businessman in the contemporary Indian opium industry. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is about the men who participate in the state-licensed opium poppy husk business in the North Indian state of Rajasthan. By depicting the interactions amongst poppy husk traders, as well as the interactions between traders and regulatory officials, this thesis describes the composition of the poppy husk trading community, explains their distinctive methods of managing the risk of their work's extra-legal and illegal aspects, identifies characteristics that differentiate this commercial community from others, and delineates traders' position amongst the middle classes of Rajasthan and India. Poppy husk traders resemble other upwardly mobile middle class Indian businessmen in their business organization and in their lives. Traders are, however, generally thought of and treated as something different and dangerous by Rajasthanis, State officials and legislators. This differentiation is rooted in powerful popular views of opium as a beneficial tradition, as a legendary source of wealth, and as a cause of corruption and violence. These views of opiate wealth and corruption are tied to expectations that the State should be accountable to the public, which are related to popular prescriptive beliefs about the legitimate use of violence and the acquisition of status and wealth. Such beliefs also explain traders' shared perceptions, justifications, and leadership strategies in the face of the high risks and opportunities associated with their various legal, illegal and extra-legal business structures and practices. In analysing State regulation and popular perceptions of corruption, this study contributes to scholarly debates on how Indians view and interact with "the State", and to debates about the relationship between society, the State, informal economic activities, and social mobility. Through these contributions, this thesis strengthens the understanding of collaboration in high-risk commercial environments by providing a robust alternative to common but fallacious explanations based on generalized notions of trust and kinship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anthropology, Cultural, South Asian Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Anthropology

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