La table-ronde organisée par Matthew Cobb et Kyle Erickson (« The development of the Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity ») a donné lieu à deux jours de discussions fructueuses. Les résumés des communication apparaissent ci-dessous.
Gwendolyn Kelly: Currencies, Commodities, and Regimes of Value: South India and the Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity
From the 1st century BCE to 4th century CE, the people of Southern India were participants in the early ‘globalisation’ of the Indian Ocean trade. This involved trade in commodities, including imports
and exports, as well as contacts with a diverse array of people from different places and cultures. Recent research in Anthropology has centered on the question of how value is created and understood
in commodities and material culture, especially in the context of contemporary globalisation. One aspect of this research focuses on ‘regimes of value’, which are the culture-specific frames in which
objects and values are assessed. The question at the heart of the matter is how different goods were understood, interpreted, and assigned values, (in the economic, as well as cultural, and even moral,
senses of the word). In this paper I examine both the archaeological and textual evidence for the different regimes of value, and how they connected and conflicted with one another. I focus on South
Indian regimes of value, and how these informed the interpretation of, and values assigned to, Roman Mediterranean goods. For example, I argue that with regard to Roman coinage, South Indians did not view or assign value to it in at all the same ways Romans (or perhaps others) did. Silver coinage was incorporated in to existing regimes of value that blurred the lines between ornament and currency. Before the appearance of Roman coinage, I have argued South Indians used beads as a medium of exchange, even a form of currency. Roman coinage joined this category, and thus came to be
perforated, strung, and worn, joining beads as ornaments, that simultaneously functioned as currency, with exchange value. Thus I explore not only the goods traded, and the media of exchange, but also consider the meanings of currencies and commodities, and how they were translated and understood within the South Indian social, cultural, and political context.