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Response to Review no. 892

I am exceptionally gratified to receive this review, and thank Dr. Balachandran very much for his subtle and generous attention to the range of my arguments and audiences, both empirical and theoretical. I must thank him especially for following the detailed trajectory of my overarching theme, the sticky legal workings of the disembedding of ‘the economy’ from the realm of ‘culture’. Statutory and jurisprudential shifts consistently coded ‘economy’ as a public project, one directed at ‘general public utility’ – a governmental mantra – and ‘culture’ as a private one. The empirical archive of the book is posed as a site for charting a colonial genealogy of capitalist modernity and political liberalism’s public/private distinction: the operations of colonial governing give us clues about the ways in which ‘the market’ is produced first and foremost as a name for ‘the public’, a process all too familiar now as democratic practice around the world is recoded as capitalist consumerism.

I was also very gratified that Dr. Balachandran so richly detailed key strands of the argument that tie part one’s focus on law and market governance to part two’s on subject-formation: the installation of contract and the category of the joint ‘undivided’ family; the recoding of embedded mercantile and speculative practices as religio-cultural ritual or gambling; and vernacular capitalists’ negotiations, enforcing gendered norms of the joint family, to secure their hegemonic status. I hope the book will encourage new histories of subject-formation and subjection in liberal regimes of market governance, so I can only reiterate my reviewer’s important final call.