top of page

【Co-hosted event with HSP,CSAS,RCSP and RCSD 】:HSP Seminar (#297)

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Dr. Nafay Choudhury, "Order in the Bazaar: Law, Norms, and Market Governance in Afghanistan’s Money Exchanger Market"

Date: 8 July 2022 (18:00-19:30 Japan time, GMT+9)

Venue: Online (Zoom)


Dr. Nafay Choudhury (PhD King’s College London/ Jeremy Haworth Research Fellow, University of Cambridge/Visiting Researcher, The University of Tokyo)


Order in the Bazaar: Law, Norms, and Market Governance in Afghanistan’s Money Exchanger Market


This presentation examines the micro-dynamics of legal order in Afghanistan’s central money exchange bazaar, Sarai Shahzada, a market of some 400 stores in the heart of Kabul where millions of dollars exchange hands each day. The money bazaar is unique not only because of its ability to operate based on its own community norms, but particularly because the scale of its activities is so extensive that it permeates virtually every aspect of the country’s economy. The money exchangers who work in the bazaar are responsible for currency exchanging, money transfers (hawala), deposit safekeeping, trade financing, informal credit, holding funds in escrow, and controlling the money supply. Based on 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Kabul, Afghanistan (from 2017-2018), the presentation explores the interdependence of state and non-state legal systems in the production of legal order in the bazaar. For most of its history, the bazaar has been governed by informal legal norms. New state-building measures after 2001 led to increased efforts by the state to regulate the bazaar, causing money exchangers to initiate internal transformations to protect their autonomy. The research shows the centrality of the state in consolidating the bazaar legal system. Exchangers have cast their non-state legal system in the image of the state by formalizing new operating rules that have introduced a management structure and dispute resolution forum. New state licenses have also helped to safeguard the boundaries of the bazaar. This research contributes to private governance and legal pluralism scholarship by revealing that a private community, even in a fragile state, may be capable of maintaining an autonomous non-state legal system not in spite of, but rather by depending on, the state.

Chairs: Associate Prof. Kensaku Mamiya (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies);

Prof. Riho Isaka (The University of Tokyo) Discussant: Dr. Masato Toriya (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

Language: English


Graduate Program on Human Security (HSP); Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS); Indian Ocean World Studies (TINDOWS); Research Center for Sustainable Peace (RCSP); Research Center for Sustainable Development (RCSD), The University of Tokyo;

South Asia Studies Center, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies


bottom of page