08 Mar 2017

The Trust Deficit: Truths, Lies and Social Encryptions in Kashmir

Paper presented at the workshop “Market Languages: Modes of Persuasion and Exchange”, Department of Sociology, Shiv Nadar University (India)

Aditi Saraf


The commercial metaphor of “trust deficit” was used by Kashmiri traders to describe the diffusion of mistrust in their community due to endemic political violence. This trust deficit also mapped out specifically at other levels: in relation to the secret operations of the state, and in the studied avoidance of terms that hinted towards non-formal transactions in everyday marketplace conversations. In this paper, I explore ramifications of the term ‘trust deficit’ along the interpretive strategies of political lies, public secrets, and commercial codes. I do this in the context of a critical event during my fieldwork, the controversial judicial execution of a Kashmiri man accused of anti-state activities. As both language and commerce are dependent on agencies of trust, I attempt to think together the interplay of commercial and linguistic opacity and transparency in narrative circuits that have encrypted within them the desire to resist being fully known and accounted for.

Highland Asia Research Group
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