Shantanu Vidur Nevrekar

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 10335

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Nevrekar, Shantanu (Stanford U.) "Banking on Community? Cooperative Banks, Caste, and Politics in Small-Town India"

While globally imagined as grassroots endeavors seeking economic justice, cooperative banks in India have been mobilized towards capitalist accumulation by networks of dominant caste-communities and political parties. While still embedded in these networks, cooperative banks in contemporary India compete in markets of financial inclusion while their political leadership comes under increased regulatory scrutiny for corruption. My project inquires into the social imaginaries of caste, community, and politics which emerge amid these economic and political transformations. Situated in Ahmednagar, a small town populated by competing cooperatives and caste-communities, my research ethnographically investigates the interplay of community, politics, and finance at a rural and an urban cooperative bank. My research traces the emotions and practices around belonging and kinship which emerge as economic strategies and cultural narratives at these banks. Further, I interrogate whether and how social actors see continuities and shifts in these notions of community as they compete with other caste-communities and cooperative banks. Examining market strategies of political intermediaries, I ask how competing discourses and practices around ‘politics’ shape community relations and economic action. Analyzing caste and cooperatives as empirical and conceptual sites, my project will contribute a new anthropological understanding of community and capitalism.