Maitrayee DekaOct 20, 2023
Traders and Tinkers
Bazaars in the Global Economy
Stanford University Press 2023
Michael O. Johnston sits down with Maitrayee Deka, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex to discuss her new book Traders and Tinkers: Bazaars in the Global Economy (Stanford University Press, 2023). The term "tinker" calls to mind nomadic medieval vendors who operate on the fringe of formal society. Excluded from elite circles and characterized by an ability to leverage minimal resources, these tradesmen live and die by their ability to adapt their stores to the popular tastes of the day. In Delhi in the 21st century, an extensive network of informal marketplaces, or bazaars, has evolved over the course of the city's history, across colonial and postcolonial regimes. Their resilience as an economic system is the subject of this book. Today, instead of mending and selling fabrics and pots, these street vendors are primarily associated with electronic products—computers, cell phones, motherboards, and video games.
This book offers a deep ethnography of three Delhi bazaars, and a cast of tinkers, traders, magicians, street performers, and hackers who work there. It is an exploration, and recognition, of the role of bazaars and tinkers in the modern global economy, driving globalization from below. In Delhi, and across the world, these street markets work to create a new information society, as the global popular classes aspire to elite consumer goods they cannot afford except in counterfeit.
Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is a Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He is the author of The Social Construction of a Cultural Spectacle: Floatzilla (Lexington Books, 2023) and Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest: Reconstructing the Mississippi River (Lexington Books, 2022). His general area of study is about the construction of identity and place. He is currently conducting research for his next project that looks at nightlife and the emotional labor that is performed by bouncers at bars and nightclubs. To learn more about Michael O. Johnston you can go to his website, Google Scholar, Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or by email at email@example.com.