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What Is Money?

A Definition Beyond Materiality and Quantity

Emanuel Seitz

This article takes seriously this special issue’s claim that money’s quantity is material. Three questions, however, arise at once. First, what is money? Second, is quantity an essential property of money? Third, is materiality an essential property

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“Money Is Life”

Quantity, Social Freedom, and Combinatory Practices in Western Kenya

Mario Schmidt

Whenever I conduct fieldwork in Kaleko, 1 a small market center situated between Kisii and Kisumu, I am baffled by the mutually exclusive perspectives that jo -Kaleko (people of Kaleko) have on money. The people often portray themselves as cattle

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Peter Oakley

that the price of gold accurately reflected investor anxiety was not controversial. But having supported the 100-year-long project to try to wean the world off gold as money, the world’s central bankers were less than enthusiastic to give the yellow

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The Devil’s Money

A Multi-level Approach to Acceleration and Turbulence in Oil-Producing Southern Chad

Andrea Behrends and Remadji Hoinathy

economic practices, committees, and institutions to guarantee stability and growth in a country where a volatile political situation would otherwise harm investment in oil production. The intention was to pre-establish transparency of money flows as an

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Biography and Shakespeare’s Money

Portraits of an Economic Persona

Paola Pugliatti

James Clifford says, we wish to direct ‘our attention to the complex ways in which cultural patterns shape individual behaviour and experience’. 29 Money in Shakespeare biography The Shakespeare we want is not the man trivially attending to his worldly

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‘Money on the Street’ as a Hoard

How Informal Moneylenders Remain Unbanked

Martin Fotta

authorities and much money in loans to Jurons (non-Gypsies). His reputation lends social capital and support to households associated with him. In São Gabriel, one such tent settlement was located on a small hill close to a town entrance. Its strongman

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Money and the Morality of Commensuration

Currencies of Poverty in Post-Soviet Cuba

Martin Holbraad

One can think of anthropological literature on money as an empirical rumination on the classical idea that money’s power turns on its dual nature as both means and measure of exchange. 1 With reference to this idea, one finds in the literature a

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On Money and Quarantine

A Self-Ethnography from Italy

Francesca Messineo

During the lockdown, I started perceiving cash as a potentially infected entity, carrying the virus on its surface. This article explores the trajectories and implications of this modified perspective on money by merging different levels of analysis. The attempt to grasp both the social and material significance of this ‘object’ will resound in personal anecdotes from my house. The self-ethnographic approach accounts also for the intimate feelings and the new gaze on money produced within me; the enthusiasm for imagining an economy driven by different rules; nostalgia for the activities I used to pay for; anxieties caused by this unprecedented health crisis; and my curiosity to observe how relationships with people and things have changed. The need to share experiences as a political statement and the desire to put fears and hopes into words guide my work.

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Richard H. Robbins

“Before there was money, there was debt. Before there was an American republic, there was America’s national debt. Over the last three decades, the neoliberal reordering of political economy produced a ‘debtor nation,’ a ‘republic of debtors,’ and

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Changing Colors of Money

Tips, Commissions, and Ritual in Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Jackie Feldman

The movement of money in Christian pilgrimage is a profound mirror of cultural classifications. By examining tips, commissions, and souvenir purchases in Holy Land pilgrimages, I show how the transfer of monies activates a series of multiple, complex relationships between Jewish guides, Palestinian drivers, and Christian pilgrims. I identify the 'colors'—or moral values—of salaries, tips, and commissions that change hands as 'white', 'black', or 'gray' monies and correlate these colors with particular discourses and degrees of transparency. I then illustrate how prayer, rituals, and the citation of scripture may 'bleach' these monies, transforming tips into 'love offerings' and souvenir purchases into aids to spiritual development or charity to local communities, while fostering relationships and conveying messages across religious and cultural lines. Far from being a universal 'acid' that taints human relationships, pilgrimage monies demonstrate how, through the exchange of goods, people are able to create and maintain spiritual values.