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Characterization of Gold Mining Institutions in the Nilgiri-Wayanad Region of India: A Historical-Institutional Perspective

Amalendu Jyotishi

No 114, Working papers from The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics

Abstract: This paper explores the complex development of gold mining in the Nilgiri-Wayanad region of Southern India, demonstrating how entwined histories disrupt simple taxonomic structures of ‘formality' and ‘informality.' Drawing on the long history of gold mining in the region that dates back to the 1830's, this paper presents a counter-example to the conventional view that institutions develop in a trajectory of informality to formality. To do this, the article identifies three distinct phases of development in the gold mining industry of this region that mark and encompass shifts in governance of the area, global economic trends and commercial investment, property rights, government funding, influx of repatriate communities, and other social issues in the local economy. We conclude based on this analysis that institutions in the region have evolved from formal-artisanal to formal-industrial and then to informal small-scale.

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